Saint Thomas has what it takes
John Moore and Anton Marcus will be hoping Saint Thomas can repeat the dosage from last season - when he won at the first time of asking - and take out this afternoon's Japan Racing Association Trophy (Race 9).
The all-weather trial of Saint Thomas on September 7 suggested in the strongest terms that he has come back this preparation as well as ever.
Marcus never pressured the well-bred son of Danehill, who hit the line full of running. His work since then has been excellent, including a brilliant gallop down the riverside on Thursday with Lucky Lad where the pair clocked 49.6 seconds over 800 metres.
Saint Thomas has won, finished second and fifth from three starts over 1,400 metres. In addition, the race is likely to be run to suit. Saint Thomas likes to drop out and settle in a rearward position and reel in the leaders in the final quarter.
The presence of Bearcat, Stardane and Classa For Ever should, at least, ensure a truly-run race.
Bearcat was most consistent last term, notching three victories and rising from a rating of 54 to 93. His form in the early part of last season was outstanding, and his course-and-distance record is equally impressive.
Tony Cruz has given him a solid preparation and he must be given plenty of respect.
Derek Cruz's My Choice lost no admirers in defeat on the opening day of the season when narrowly failing to overhaul Sambuca in the 1,400 metres contest.
He has an incredible record over this journey at headquarters and with the benefit of one run this term must be considered a leading chance.
However, he will need a tactically proficient ride from Brett Doyle given he has drawn gate 11.
The booking of Douglas Whyte aboard Noble Silence promotes interest, given the leading jockey has only had one ride aboard him for a win. That victory came in this grade last season over the same course-and-distance when rated just one pound less. There are plenty of positives and he must be kept safe in all multiples.
Caspar Fownes-trained Snippedydooda ran superbly on the opening day when third to impressive winner Triumphant Unicorn. He remains on the same mark, is well drawn and given he has won over this trip must be kept safe.
Stardane (ninth), Move It (11th) and Classa For Ever (12th) all finished well adrift of Snippedydooda on that occasion and they may not be capable of making the improvement required to turn the tables.
The slick early sectionals did not help the cause of Classa For Ever or Stardane on that occasion; providing a similar scenario does not unfold in this event then they should be harder to run past. Move It leaves the impression he needs further relief in the ratings.
John Size's Winning Dragon was lightly-raced last season, having just had three starts, the last of which came in early January.
He has had a long time off from racing and although he has won over this trip, he will benefit enormously from the run.
Danny Shum Chap-shing has opted to re-apply the blinkers to Ka Ka Win, who is yet to hit the frame from 10 local starts. Admittedly, he has fallen a long way in the ratings (from 94 to 77) but there is little doubt he is looking for a more of a test of stamina.
Dashing Winner hasn't won in a long time and although his recent all-weather trial was a sound piece of work, he would do well to hit the frame here.
Czar Of Prussia prefers the all-weather surface and should be outclassed but there is some interest provided with Hong Kong debutants Good Profit and The King.
The former, trained by David Hayes, raced in Australia and won over distances ranging from 1,250m to 1,600m including a victory in the Spring Stakes (1,600m-Gr 3).
His all-weather trial was a sound piece of work and his preparation has been good enough to warrant plenty of respect on his local debut.
Tony Millard-trained The King arrives from Argentina with some sound credentials having won a Group 3 contest over 1,600 metres. On the whole, the Argentinean imports have been disappointing and the best advice might be to wait and see how this fellow shapes.
However, he is a nice mover and Millard definitely has the material to work with.