LUSO MAKES ALL THE RIGHT MOVES
Look no further than Luso in the Vase for one standout bet in this afternoon's enthralling International contests at Sha Tin.
Luso is defending his Vase crown from last season and, if anything, has arrived in town looking even better than 12 months ago when he scored by 1.5 from the Australian perennial, Royal Snack.
Luso's trainer Clive Brittain has never been afraid to travel his horses or to take on all-comers.
His method of entries was once likened by Simon Stanley of Trainers' Record to the 'whiff of grapeshot' which a certain young French general by the name of Napoleon Bonaparte used to scatter the 'mob' from the Tuilleries during an early phase of the French Revolution.
But time and time again Brittain's bold policies have come off. He was the first British trainer to win a Breeders' Cup event in America and his runners have come to respected all over Europe as well as in Australia, Japan, New Zealand and, of course, Hong Kong.
Of all the trainers who have the initiative to travel their horses, Brittain is probably the best.
He has it down to a fine art and Luso has looked nothing short of magnificent in his build up to today's 2,400-metre contest.
He has also been moving most fluently under Mick Kinane who, himself, is second to none when it comes to claiming the world's top prizes.
Just look at Kinane's roll-call. It includes an English Derby and King George, an Arc De Triomphe, a Melbourne Cup, a Belmont Stakes and a Japan Cup as well as two International Bowls.
Kinane knows Luso well, Sha Tin even better and there is every reason to suppose that Luso will confirm last season's form with leading local stayer Privilege.
On that occasion, Privilege was four 2.5 lengths third to Luso and it could just be that he comes into today's event a pound or two worse than 12 months ago.
The German raider, Protektor, ran a bold race to be beaten 6.25 lengths into fourth by Luso last season without having any luck in running.
Protektor was noted staying on best of all in the straight and has to be considered a good chance of running into the placings. But he is unlikely to be able to reverse the form with Luso, having been beaten fairly and squarely by him on two occasions already this summer.
When Luso ran out a three-length winner of the Group One WGZ Bank Deutschlandpreis over 2,400 at the impressive Dusseldorf track he had Protektor five lengths back in third and then confirmed that form when they ran second and fourth in the Group One Aral-Pokal at Gelsenkirchen in the heart of industralised Germany.
The Australian stayers, Sunny Lane and Yobro, don't appeal as up to the standard of their European rivals and have also had some tough racing.
Posidonas, the other British runner, is not far behind Luso on his best form and accounted for future Melbourne Cup runner Arabian Story by a short head when taking a Listed event at Newbury in September. He then lost nothing in defeat when ninth in the Arc and has definite place claims.
Eishin Sansan doesn't appear to be quite as good as Japan's other runners in the Bowl and the Cup but New Zealand's Sapio can't be ruled out.
He has arrived looking very well in himself, is very tough and genuine and stays all day.
Of the local runners, slight preference is for the improving Indigenous over Privilege as he appears to have thrived since joining champion trainer Ivan Allan and will relish the move to 2,400 metres. The key to Indigenous will be to switch him off and get him settled in the early stages.