Consistent Hugo is set for a Mighty achievement
John Size and Shane Dye have been a potent force in feature races over the past two seasons and their winning ways should hold true again at Sha Tin this afternoon where Mighty Hugo is the pick to win the Chinese Recreation Club Challenge Cup.
The consistent galloper won on his third start last term, having racing himself into peak fitness and that would appear to be the case once again.
He hit the line full of running last weekend at Sha Tin when finishing fifth to Agility over the Sha Tin mile and will relish the step up to 1,800 metres.
He was no chance of hitting the frame that day, the sectionals made it virtually impossible for him to do so, but there was still plenty of merit in the run.
The late-maturing son of Zabeel is clearly looking for more of a test of stamina, which he can get today.
In addition, he has struck a relatively weak contest and if able to settle more prominently, he could prove hard to catch with a couple of main rivals conceding him plenty of weight.
One of the main dangers will be topweight Healthy Wealthy, who won five races last term, rising from a mark of 54 to 97.
One of those wins came over the course and distance of today's race and an impressive all-weather trial earlier this month indicated he is ready to give a good account.
Tony Cruz-trained Lucky Good Day is another danger who concedes nine pounds to Mighty Hugo. At the end of last term, he notched his first local victory on his third local start.
The win came at Happy Valley following two poor efforts at Sha Tin, but not too much should be read into his earlier form because he clearly wasn't fully acclimitised. There is a chance of further improvement and he must be kept safe.
David Hayes has had an unusually slow start to the season but should see a better performance from Magic Mail than he did on the opening day of the season when he weakened tamely behind Sambuca.
Gerald Mosse never knocked him around once he realised the Australian private purchase wasn't going to figure in the finish. And subsequently, he moved very nicely in an all-weather trial, just days after his first-up failure.
Another Argentinean in Lancettier, a stablemate of Magic Mail, won a trial on the artificial surface the same morning and while the work was marginally better, it wasn't enough to suggest he can turn around some ordinary form. He needs to show significantly more purpose under racing conditions before being followed.
Dashing Winner has been withdrawn and made way for impressive last-start winner Lucky Sixer. The track bias and good-to-yielding conditions were very much in his favour and no doubt played a major role in that success. Nonetheless, it was still an impressive win, showing he is on the upgrade and deserves plenty of respect.
Kiddy Sing displayed some improvement in a recent trial and, with the benefit of one run this term, is expected to improve. However, he has only hit the frame once from nine starts so he is best watched for the time being.
Flying Bishop (sixth), Ambitious Tycoon (eighth) and Super Blitz (seventh) all competed in the 1,600 metres event won by Asali earlier this month. The step up in trip does not favour Flying Bishop and the chances are that both Ambitious Tycoon and Super Blitz can turn the tables this time round.
It would appear the handicapper has the measure of Ambitious Tycoon at this stage but with Douglas Whyte on board, the consistent gelding may be able to sneak in to the frame. Super Blitz will relish the step up in distance and because he has been placed twice from four starts over the course and distance, he must be kept safe.
The recent work of Shanghai King hasn't impressed at all and he will benefit from the outing, while Elephant Dance would only come into calculations if the track was rain-affected. Neither Ka Ka Win (11 starts) nor Dash Ahead (six starts) have managed to hit the frame in their respective local careers and there is no reason to suggest either can turn it around today.