Speedy Bishop has the edge over Young Hero
The vagaries of the Happy Valley course might prove the leveller for Young Hero and, while the Tony Cruz-trained California Bishop doesn't make a habit of winning regularly, he will get his chance in the Hong Kong Shipowners Association Cup (1,800m) tonight.
Young Hero (Douglas Whyte) will need everything to fall correctly from his wide barrier on the 'B' course, which almost ritually favours the low draws and horses on the speed.
California Bishop (Brett Prebble) fails one of those tests as he is drawn outside Young Hero at the start, but on their usual racing patterns that starting point might be the nearest Whyte gets to Prebble before the final stages.
Prebble will have the Bishop out and going forward aggressively in the early stages and the paucity of speed underneath him suggests that the gelding could even get over to the rail.
With the other habitual frontrunner, High Intelligent (Manoel Nunes), drawn to his outside, Prebble may get the chance to steady the pace and disadvantage his main rival back in the field.
California Bishop has won just twice, once over this course, but he has been a highly consistent gelding, featuring in the prize money many more times as is borne out by his more than $2 million in stake money.
Young Hero for all of that is the one on the rise. He has looked good finishing off his races strongly on the dirt before a win of authority over this course last time out but that was from barrier one and Whyte was able to get the four-year-old to jump cleanly - something he had not been doing - and put him into the race.
Without pushing him hard early tonight, even if he jumps well there is no guarantee he will be in a similar running position.
He might be good enough to come from the rear to win, with Whyte producing one of his Happy Valley masterpieces but Young Hero won't have much else in his favour trying to do it.
The Caspar Fownes-trained Sikander (Howard Cheng Yue-tin) commands plenty of attention returning to Happy Valley after working home well in the Queen Mother's Memorial last start over 2,400m.
From a good gate, his prior run over an unsuitable 1,650m at the Valley was excellent and 1,800m is certainly a more winnable assignment.