Size in search of Fortune
Hong Kong's former champion trainer will be out to prove that Size does in fact matter at Happy Valley tonight with Fortune Smiles ready to lead the stable out of a serious dry spell.
Though dethroned by Tony Cruz for the first time last season, John Size could hardly regard finishing second as a failed year but would be unlikely to see his last six months in Hong Kong racing as anywhere near his best.
From his past 100 runners, Size has sent out just three winners - moderate by any standards but extraordinary by the Australian's lofty benchmarks.
That should start to turn tonight, however, with Size looking to have winning chances with three of his four runners and a second-to-none prospect with Valley specialist Fortune Smiles (Douglas Whyte) in the fifth event.
It wasn't quite Whyte's night last Wednesday when he finished with a winner and five seconds, with Fortune Smiles one of the latter but it was no fault of the rider.
Under a perfect job from Whyte, Fortune Smiles pinged clear in the straight and looked all over a winner until another Valley fancier, Classa Win, flew out of the pack to run him down with a 12-pound weight pull.
Fortune Smiles has backed up quickly in the past with a winning result and with gate one again this evening, his tactical speed should ensure that he will look the winner in the straight. With the benefit of race fitness, that should be enough to get him home first.
Most opposition should come from Tony Millard-trained Gallant Knight (Brett Prebble), who was unlucky when second to Win Again first-up and has clearly come back on top of his game.
At Sha Tin, Win Again squeezed Gallant Knight early in the race in which turned out to be vital for race position - instead of being in front of or inside Win Again, Gallant Knight spent the race behind the winner.
When they made their finishing runs, Gallant Knight was unable to pull much ground back from Win Again but went home as strongly after having to concede a start due to the interference.
Connections protested unsuccessfully but there is little doubt that Gallant Knight would have beaten the winner had he turned for home in front of him instead of the other way around.
Having said that, Gallant Knight has had a history of finding ways to be beaten as his record of one win and nine minor placings from 35 starts clearly shows.
With a decent run, good gates and tactical speed, Fortune Smiles and Gallant Knight should hold the aces over Phoenix Fortune (Anthony Delpech) and Winning Sunshine (Felix Coetzee) in which both will be stepping out for the first time this season.
Both are very capable over tonight's course and distance and drawn in but might just take the one outing to kick out the cobwebs after a couple of months away from the races.
Almond Lee Yee-tat-trained Paradis also looks a possibility in the race with no weight though, his last-start win last season came on the rain-affected going.