Refreshed Island Speed back for a final flurry
A timely freshen-up since his last-start defeat might be enough to see course specialist Island Speed overcome a wide gate to win the final feature of the Happy Valley season in the Happy Valley Vase (1,000m) tonight.
Island Speed (Anthony Delpech) had a fairly busy time through the spring months and the three-year-old looked to be showing the effects when he lacked his usual spark behind Lucky Stravinsky in April over 1,200m.
He was still brave in defeat under a big weight, but trainer Peter Ng Bik-kuen is a master at playing the stop-start game to manage an up-and-coming sprinter in Hong Kong's testing system, and the gelding may have benefited from getting a fairly easy time of things during his time off.
Ng gave him a solid hit out at the track under regular rider Delpech last week and that was enough to show that the impressive Flying Spur gelding is ready to fire again.
He is unbeaten in two starts over the minimum trip at the Valley and has won three of his five at the track overall, all the more impressive because only one of those victories has been achieved from a low draw.
In his most recent 1,000m win, Island Speed had to produce some blistering early pace to get across and lead from gate 10 and he did so, showing that the task of doing the same tonight is within his capabilities.
While Classa For Ever in gate three is a habitual leader and first reserve Boom (gate one) has shown early pace without being overly strong, the other real speed in the race is Thunder Flash from gate 11, and that may allow Island Speed to get across to a nice position early.
The other smart three-year-old Bear Macho (Douglas Whyte) has also drawn wide, but can be the danger with the right run and Whyte will be looking for a strong pace up front and some cover off the pace.
Old-timer Noble Man was in great form when the season began and he has been showing signs that he is somewhere near that form again in recent starts over longer trips.
He was wide over 1,650m last time out, but not far away at the finish and a return to sprinting should be more suitable.