Superior tactical skills give Real Special the edge
John Size's tough three-year-old Real Special's tactical abilities might be enough to swing things in his favour to win today's CUHK Alumni Cup (2,000m) at Sha Tin.
Real Special (Felix Coetzee) and Andreas Schutz's London Express (Zac Purton) look the strongest chances in the race, but Real Special takes a forward position in his races, and his rival will certainly be giving him a start when they turn for home.
Real Special has done enough in a light career to suggest he is a decent class of stayer for the future, outpointing Danesis three runs ago at 1,800m after having the lead most of the way and fighting on doggedly under a light weight.
After that win, he started favourite at Happy Valley only to look very uncomfortable around the tighter circuit. Little went right in the race and he overraced before finishing sixth.
Size moved the youngster back to Sha Tin for his latest run and removed his blinkers for a less suitable 1,400m.
The gelding simply didn't have the speed, but looked more settled without blinkers and worked to the line steadily.
Today's feature shapes up as a similar style of affair to the last race he won, with Real Special, Fantastic Dancer and possibly the outsider Genius Master being forward early, though it would not surprise if Coetzee preferred the box seat to taking up the running.
His main and very real danger is London Express, who is at the other end of the spectrum in abilities, lacking the ability to take up a position, but a strong stayer who probably wants at least today's distance.
The former British stayer arrived on an 85-rating in 2006, but problems with acclimatisation and his joints saw him slip quickly down the ladder with some moderate efforts.
Schutz seems to have him going well now, with an encouraging dirt run first-up, followed by a very solid second to Industrial Express (Douglas Whyte) over this trip.
He didn't look quite as well suited dropping back to 1,800m last time, but his final 100m was his best and he ran on strongly for a close fourth.
If the pressure on the lead turns out to be more significant than it looks on paper, or if Real Special fails to stay 2,000m at this early stage of his career, then the five-year-old Irish bred will be the one powering over his rivals.