Put the Emphasis on stamina
British champion jockey Kieren Fallon can notch the second winner of his winter stint by taking the Fakei Cup with the David Oughton-trained Emphasis tonight.
Fallon, who rode a double century of winners in Britain last season for the third time in succession, won on his first ride but has since been lumbered with a series of mediocre mounts.
No matter how good a jockey may be - and they don't come much better than Fallon - it is not easy to win on sub-standard material. He also had a trip to Florida for the Breeders' Cup meeting.
In Emphasis, Fallon partners a horse who will appreciate the 2,000 metres of this Classes Three and Four event and looks primed for a top showing.
Fallon takes over from Alan Munro, who is on Race To Honour for Alex Wong Siu-tan, but he will have his work cut out to beat Emphasis. Race To Honour heads into unknown territory over this trip and his best efforts have been on the dirt.
Emphasis showed the expected improvement from his first run of the season last time out at Happy Valley when he came from well off the pace to finish three lengths from The Establishment with Surprise Surprise, a stablemate of the selection, in second place.
It was noted that Emphasis had become unbalanced at the 1,000 metres and lost ground. He made quite a lot of it up but was never going to figure.
The Establishment, who reopposes, was given an exemplary ride by Douglas Whyte but he is on Brilliant Leader here for Bruce Hutchison while Glen Boss, who rode Brilliant Leader last time, is on The Establishment. Did someone say merry-go-round? Frankly, Boss will have his work cut out to confirm form with Emphasis who is now eight pounds better off and is likely to get a clearer run and a very demanding ride.
Topweight Natural Winner has been bumped up in no uncertain fashion for his last-start winning effort at Happy Valley over 1,800 metres and is not proven over this trip. He may well get it but there will surely be those prepared to oppose him, not least because of the 136 pounds.
Mighty Combination has turned in two indifferent efforts to date even if there were partial excuses and Citadel, now with Peter Chapple-Hyam, has been in no sort of form and also tackles an interesting new trip.
Oughton has taken over the training of Strategic Move, formerly with suspended Patrick Biancone, and on his better form the Groom Dancer gelding is a major hope.
Strategic Move put in a bold first-up effort at the Valley under Freddie Sanchez, who again has the riding duties, and would not have to improve too much to be effective. A stable quinella is not out of the question.
Fruitful Trip won an easier race over this trip last time at the Valley and has modest claims.