Kinane factor to kick in
William's Surpass looks a cracking ride for the brilliant Irishman Mick Kinane who makes a welcome return to Hong Kong racing at Happy Valley this afternoon.
Kinane has a full book of nine rides, but it is the David Hayes-trained William's Surpass in the eighth event who is rated the best of them.
The four-year-old son of King's High handles the Valley no problem at all and has looked an improved performer this season with some most fluent work and some eye-catching runs on each of his past two starts.
Most recently, he was asked to do too much work in front when leading for a long way in the highly competitive 1,400-metre race won by stablemate Helene Honour from Whytellyou and Commander Charlie.
That has to be one of the best Class Two events ever run in Hong Kong and William's Surpass, having been unsuited by the race tempo, was still only beaten 4.25 lengths under the unfashionable apprentice Peter Y. S. Wong.
Wong may claim five pounds but you'd have to say that Kinane was emphatically more than a five-pound better rider than Wong.
So there is a positive jockey change, a drop down in distance, an easier race and some excellent trackwork all in William's Surpass' favour.
He'd also run really well prior to that Helene Honour contest when a close-up fifth to stablemate Cheers Win over 1,200 metres at Sha Tin. On that occasion he was beaten just 1.75 lengths with Wong looking unable to get to the bottom of him.
William's Surpass has been dropped two pounds by the handicapping department for those last two runs and while that may not seem that much, it translates to two thirds of a length at this 1,200-metre trip. Every little bit helps given that the races are so tightly and well handicapped.
Triple Expresso, who has been racing really well down the straight 1,000-metre chute, could give William's Surpass plenty to think about.
He's a much-improved performer this season and could get to the front this afternoon.
He is likely to be chased hard by Optic General who seems very well in himself during morning trackwork.
Optic General has hung on over 1,200 metres before but with the rail back to the 'A' position, the front-running bias that has bedeviled so much racing at the Valley could be minimalised.
This will make it very tough, perhaps too tough, for Optic General to hang on for the tierce.
William's Surpass' stablemate, Dance Control, is not out of it. He goes well at this trip and should be racing just behind the speed.
But Winningcombination and Silver Collector could prove bigger threats.
Winningcombination has never raced better and goes well over the Valley's 1,200 metres. He continues to work with plenty of zest.
Brett 'Double' Doyle made an extremely rare tactical error in taking Silver Collector over to the near side of the track down the straight 1,000-metre chute last time.
Doyle is normally one of the most astute jockeys and he could well make amends on the grey son of El Prado by bringing him with a strong, late challenge to William's Surpass.