Slimmed-down Singing Diners ready to turn tables on rivals
Singing Diners finally looks to have won the battle of the bulge, which should allow the promising gelding to return to his best in the Panasonic Joba Handicap (1,400m).
The Danny Shum Chap-shing trained four-year-old looked a star on the rise in winning his only two appearances last season but returned this term some 44 pounds heavier and desperately in need of some racing.
He resumed after a 197-day break at Sha Tin on September 23 and never really looked like getting into the action after being posted very wide from the outside barrier, eventually winding up 11th to Lucky Hero.
He stripped off 31 pounds for his next assignment three weeks later and his performance in running fifth to Shangdong General indicated he was finally coming back to form.
From gate 10, the Danasinga gelding was posted on a limb in midfield before turning for home five wide but he knuckled down gamely in the final stages to be beaten just over two lengths despite the tough run in transit.
His weight has been posted at 1,163 pounds for this assignment, down 13 pounds on his last winning weight, suggesting he is ready for business.
Singing Diners, reunited with Eric Saint-Martin, looks likely to enjoy all the favours in the run from gate three and with an important advantage at the weights over his main dangers he should be able to return to winning form. The horse he will have to gun down will be Macho Expresso, who created a big impression when narrowly beaten by Lucky Hero.
The John Size-trained four-year-old, a winner of his only start in New Zealand, was just nailed in the shadows of the post 27 days ago after crossing to make the speed. He will have derived good benefit from that outing and he gives the impression he's on his way to better races.
While Lucky Hero already has successes over Singing Diners and Macho Expresso this season, the three-year-old faces his acid test on this occasion having to carry the burden of a 130 pounds.
The John Moore-trained gelding showed terrific promise in winning two of four as a griffin last season and he is unbeaten in two runs since resuming.
However, it's very difficult for southern hemisphere three-year-olds to carry such heavy weights at this time of the season, even though there is little doubt he will go into bigger successes in time.
The other main contender in a race that will likely prove a very strong form reference in time to come, is the promising O'Reilly Rally.
The Tony Cruz-trained gelding looked full of class last season in winning two of three and he'll strip fitter for his first-up performance when third to Mutual Fun and Enthused.
The form from that outing has already been franked by the subsequent success of Enthused in Class Two and Aussie ace Brett Prebble, who is unbeaten in two runs on the four-year-old, returns to the saddle.
He has drawn perfectly in barrier one, which will give Prebble the option either to make the speed or enjoy the run of the race in the box seat.