Allan seeks change of luck
Supporters of champion trainer Ivan Allan could tonight be toasting victory in the Remy XO Cup.
Allan goes into the important sponsored event double-handed and it is Citiluck, likely to start fractionally less favoured than topweight Privilege, who could be the one to land the prize.
Allan has been on a buying mission to Britain and Ireland but his entire attention is now concentrated on rapidly improving on the tally of two winners to date.
And he can start with this 1,800-metre event which has attracted most of Hong Kong's top stayers and promises to be an excellent feature event on a marathon card at Sha Tin.
Citiluck ran a top race in defeat behind Smashing Pumpkin in the Sha Tin Trophy when he met trouble at a crucial stage, otherwise he might well have been closer at the finish although the winner did turn in a great effort.
Citiluck is a quality individual and that first-up run has also brought him along. His work has been first class and he is going to be rippling fit and absolutely ready for this engagement.
In Paddy Payne, Citiluck is ridden by a jockey who is having a great season and is one to give most horses every possible chance in a race.
The step up in distance will also suit Citiluck who made up good ground late in his seasonal debut but will surely be in a position to strike when it really matters today.
It is impossible to rule out Privilege but the iron horse is getting no younger and may not find it as easy to hold off some of the younger brigade as was the case in the past.
Privilege ran creditably in Smashing Pumpkin's race and he, too, will definitely be better suited by the trip while Basil Marcus, his jockey at the height of the gelding's glory days, is reunited with him today.
En Rapport stands out as the flag-carrier for the younger horses.
Trainer Lawrie Fownes said: 'He missed a vital trial just before his first run and it affected his preparation. I think in the circumstances to run fourth as he did was an excellent effort and he has certainly done everything we have asked of him since then.
'This is a tough race, but he is as good as any I have trained in Hong Kong and I am confident he will run really well.' En Rapport looks destined for big things on the local scene and his seasonal debut was very good. He won commandingly over this trip late last season, it is hard not to see him figuring.
Victory Star knocked up in his debut and it was really a run that has set him up for a good effort. David Oughton's horses usually benefit from that first outing and his work since then has been good.
Alan Munro takes over from Douglas Whyte, who is required for Deauville, and it could pay to keep Victory Star safe.
Whyte is happy with Deauville - but admits the lack of a run could be crucial.
'Tony [Cruz] has done everything he can with the horse and he is fit. But it is hard to compensate for not having a run against good horses who have already raced.
'Deauville will run well and he could win. If he does it will really be something,' said Whyte, going into the meeting off the back of a four-timer at Sha Tin on Wednesday night.
Mazal also goes into this without a run and has been working encouragingly but his race is likely to come later.
It is hard to make a case for Sugarloaf, Celestial Fortune, Twin Dragons and Optic Fashion, although the latter is going better.
The nod would also have to go against Sky Coast and it will be hard for Multi-Star although his work, too, has picked up noticeably.
In a tough contest, champion trainer Allan - not for the first time - holds the key.