Strategic Move set for Cup revenge
Solid stayer Strategic Move has exactly what it takes to win tonight's featured Hong Kong Football Club Centenary Cup at Happy Valley.
The glitter and the glamour will surround the three International Jockeys' Championship races on a big night for racing at the city track but ultra-reliable rider Eric Legrix should be celebrating after the fifth event on the card.
The 2,200-metre trip is tailor-made for Strategic Move and Legrix is aboard the David Oughton-trained galloper in place of suspended compatriot Freddie Sanchez. And it's a handy ride for Legrix.
Last time out, Strategic Move finished three-quarters of a length third to the Bruce Hutchison-trained Brilliant Leader over 2,000 metres, coming from midfield to be running on at the finish.
It was a good effort and Strategic Move, another who moved from the disbanded Patrick Biancone stable to Oughton, has not regressed since that run.
Legrix is ideally drawn in barrier five and Strategic Move shows enough natural pace to land better than midfield or even closer to the pace.
That is going to be a help at the Valley even though tracks staff are no longer using a heavy roller which may partly alleviate the bias towards front-runners or those bang on the pace.
Strategic Move's Valley credentials are sound enough as he finished second over 1,800 metres to Diamond And Gold at the Arc simulcast meeting in early October.
He also had Aly Baba and Lion's Share, both involved tonight, behind him on that occasion.
There are two very real dangers to the selection, topweight Jade Dynasty and Crowning Vigors, who has won his past three on the bounce.
Jade Dynasty has won at the Valley before under an inspired ride last year from Michael Kinane and tonight compatriot Kieren Fallon looks to repeat the feat for the horse's new trainer Hutchison.
The popular Australian has the best guide of all to the chances of Jade Dynasty as he knows the strength of his runner tonight as opposed to Brilliant Leader, who beat Strategic Move last time.
Although Jade Dynasty has won at the Valley and run creditably, he looks better suited to the roomier Sha Tin.
However, he remains a live chance even under the impost of 137 pounds.
Strategic Move is a little better off (136 pounds) and that could leave the door open for Crowning Vigors, the Wong Tang-ping-trained stayer who has gone from strength to strength. He steps up in distance but is by the incredibly successful sire Zabeel out of a Kampala mare and the 2,200 metres should not prove too much trouble.
There is a lot to be said for following horses on their way up, not least because so many take a set against them and the odds tend to hold up.
It is also worth noting that New Zealand five-year-olds are in their prime so there is plenty to be said in favour of Crowning Vigors.
In fact, there is not a great deal of depth to this trophy race but a case can be made for Tremendous Way who came from an impossible position two starts back, course and distance, to finish third to The Establishment and a luckless Surprise Surprise.
The latter is the other chance in the race if claimer Philip C. T. Cheng lives up to recent efforts and does a solid job on him.
The rest, with the possible exception of Fruitful Trip, all look vulnerable.