Be Smart and take a chance with Lord
Smartlord can improve sufficiently to take the opening griffin event on today's Lunar New Year card at Sha Tin.
It looks to be a race in three on a day where elsewhere on the programme there are some fascinating but decidedly tricky contests with the good things at first glance perhaps not being such certain winners after all.
Indigenous is sure to be a warm order in the Centenary Vase and he did put in a huge run over a mile last time when he prevailed despite being twice stopped in his run.
But Deauville went firmly into the notebook behind Indigenous last time and should strip fitter.
He's had his problems but do not underestimate Tony Cruz's training ability. Cruz appears to have Deauville right back to his best and he could give Indigenous and Horse of the Year, Privilege, a real fright at these weights.
Then there is Quick Speed, who has to have a favourite's chance in the sixth as his defeat of Senator has been franked by that one's subsequent success.
Quick Speed could win but he's almost certain to start at cramped odds and the lightly raced types Aly Baba and Bordeaux are both open to considerable improvement as is Saint Galore. There will also be a few of the older horses lining up to have a crack at Quick Speed.
Colourful Era won a seemingly strong form race with ease last time but the form has subsequently taken a few dents and the likes of On The Job, Kevmate and Hornet will surely give him a stern test.
On The Job looks a particularly good type and recorded a smart Topspeed figure when scoring well on debut down the straight 1,000-metre chute. It is a figure superior to that which Colourful Era clocked on his winning debut.
But back to the opener and preference is for Smartlord over and above Handover and Triple Expresso as he appears open to more improvement.
Last time out Handover chased home Primo, only failing by a head to run him down having been slowly away and then inconvenienced at the start.
It won't be easy to turn the tables on the Bruce Hutchison-trained runner who appears to have gone well in his work since.
But Smartlord looked to be more in need of the run that day and looks to have thrived at the track since. He was just over a length behind the Hutchison runner last time and could now overhaul him at a reasonable price.
That's the other thing, Smartlord may be a touch of value compared to Handover.
Triple Expresso could be the dark horse in the race. He was very green in his trials prior to running 3.25 lengths seventh to Primo when he might have been committed for home too soon.
But he ran better than he'd worked or trialled and appears to have learned a lot from that experience and is rated a big threat to all. Hollywood Star looks best of the others.