Cruz tests his Metal
Happy Valley-loving Full Metal Jacket looks the one to beat in the featured Po Leung Kuk Centenary Cup.
It is one of the season's rare day meetings at the city track and punters face a tricky card where it pays to back those who have definite form at the idiosyncratic course.
Full Metal Jacket certainly has and he looks primed to run a top race in the Classes One and Two, 1,650-metre event where champion jockey Basil Marcus has the ride in place of suspended Felix Coetzee.
This is the Tony Cruz-trained galloper's seasonal debut but the championship leader - who looks a genuine contender for the title this year - has him ready for it.
Full Metal Jacket has caught the eye in his lead-up work, but Cruz has waited for the race that ideally suits the five-year-old New Zealand import.
In his final outing last season in early June, Full Metal Jacket was beaten a half-length by Wonderful Winners, course and distance, and would seem to have the drop on that one today.
When Wonderful Winners, who is definitely a hope on his second placing to gutsy Wasabi on his course and distance seasonal debut, beat Full Metal Jacket he was on a 76 rating with the runner-up on 83.
The ratings today have Wonderful Winners on 82 and Full Metal Jacket on 79 with the weight difference now 10 pounds in favour of the Cruz galloper for the half-length.
It strongly suggests supporting Full Metal Jacket as opposed to Wonderful Winners.
William's Surpass, who also looks a major threat in a good race today, was 11 pounds to the good of Full Metal Jacket in the June 2 run when beaten into third place. He was one and a quarter lengths adrift of Full Metal Jacket.
The difference today is two pounds and William's Surpass is given a solid each-way chance.
There are some imponderables in the race which has attracted a full field of 14.
Claimer Philip Y. T. Cheng rides Don't Know When for David Hayes and this one is aptly named. He has undoubted ability but has been ridden upside down at his most recent outings.
First he was ridden for speed and virtually into the ground and then last time out he was in the rear brigade with a ride that had Marcus in front of the stewards.
Somewhere in between the extremes might be the answer but it is probably worth taking the chance and putting the horse into a small tierce or quinella.
Silent Partner will unquestionably be improved by his two runs and is another who has solid Valley form.
Alan Munro rides him for Geoff Lane and the stable could do with a bit of luck.
It is a tough race but Silent Partner is more than useful and could actually win without causing any surprise.
Top weight Hornet must be beginning to feel a little dizzy because he has been around so much since the start of the season and his recent form lines are not great.
Of more interest is Happy Champ who was a close-up third to Wasabi and Wonderful Winners in a thrilling five-horse finish here last time.
He has also drawn handily in barrier one and he must be another definite chance in a race where the winner should surely be at value odds.
Lik Rambo probably wants it longer but does not have any aversion to the Valley and is not hopeless while Winning Lad has winning form here although his last was a shocker and tends to make one wary.
Flamenco Star may well start close to favourite but has seemingly been deserted by jockey Robbie Fradd and is going over new territory here. It might pay to take a chance and oppose him.
China Red will improve but possibly not enough at this outing while Sir Galway may not be at his best and Fortune Dancer does not appeal from an extreme outside draw with a claimer up.