Vengeance to get the breaks in rematch with Pataca
The last Group One of the season today looks the ultimate showdown between Hong Kong's best stayers in the $8 million Champions & Chater Cup (2,400m), and Vengeance Of Rain should have the race break the right way to win it for a second time and stake his claim as Horse Of the Year.
Though the David Ferraris-trained hero of Dubai has beaten the John Moore-trained Viva Pataca more often than he has finished behind him, if both are on song there looks to be little between them, with the decisive factor likely to be how the race breaks.
Today's race has brought together only seven runners - not unusual for the Champions & Chater, which despite its high stake money and prestigious standing, comes so late in the season and at a distance by and large unsuitable to the horse population.
But it is a quality showdown between the past two winners of the event, and with only the great uncertainty of horse racing standing in the way of a guaranteed quinella, it will be worthy of attention simply as a sporting contest.
Vengeance Of Rain (Anthony Delpech) had to be ridden upside down beating a somewhat unlucky Viva Pataca (Michael Kinane) in the Hong Kong Gold Cup before going to Dubai to take the Sheema Classic against world-class opposition.
In the Queen Elizabeth II Cup on his return, he found Viva Pataca fresh and ridden brilliantly over 2,000m, Kinane letting Pataca's sensational sprint off the leash with exquisite timing to cruise home.
Importantly, neither Delpech nor Ferraris felt beforehand that Vengeance Of Rain would be at his best after the travelling and with the drop in trip, but the positive vibe in the camp has been palpable since that race.
Vengeance Of Rain's work has picked up again, the horse appears to be back where he was for Dubai and it may also just be that he is at his best at 2,400m.
With Saturn looking the assured leader, Delpech may find from gate one that he lands in precisely the spot he had in Dubai, a soft, relaxed trip to the turn to save his turn of foot for the straight.
Kinane, however, probably has only one option on Viva Pataca - to go back to last in the field from the outside draw and get cover, or risk exposing the horse early and having him overrace.
That should translate to a head start for Vengeance Of Rain when the accelerators go down and just enough to ensure he gets home first.
And a win today to add to his Gold Cup and Dubai Sheema Classic victories is going to be a mighty hand when the Horse Of The Year cards are called.