Special Days can dazzle for 'Dream Team' with weight pull
A big drop in weight and a return to his favourite course and distance should see the final event fall to the 'Dream Team' of John Size and Douglas Whyte with Special Days.
Race fitness is the other factor in favour of Special Days, as the five-year-old has raced well in each of his two runs this season, and is now fully prepared to go up a level and account for his 13 rivals in this Class Two race over 1,600m.
Special Days won three races last season and, ironically considering Whyte has first call on most horses in the Size yard, each of those wins was for Whyte's senior compatriot Felix Coetzee.
Of the three wins, the most impressive was his second one on December 26 last year when competing over the Sha Tin Mile in Class Three with a light weight (113 pounds).
The key ingredient to this effortless win was the fast pace of the race. Leader Bodacious crossed from barrier 14 and went out hard, clocking 1.2 seconds better than average for the first 1,200m. This suited Special Days beautifully as it completely negated his tendency to go keenly in the early and middle stages of races.
Once into the straight, Special Days showed exemplary finishing speed and ran over his rivals to score softly by 31/2 lengths in a high-rating race, with last weekend's winner Danesis finishing second and the capable Mutual Fun third.
At his last start, Special Days raced in Class Three company and carried 130 pounds. However, his two placings this campaign have each earned rating points, and he now finds himself in the bottom quadrant of Class Two, the bonus for which is a substantial drop in weight to 121 pounds. Whyte looks likely to get two willing pacemakers in Lu Yue and Luckyme, and there is some possibility Great Guy resume his previous forward racing style after trainer Tony Cruz experimented with riding him off the pace last start. This should ensure at least an even tempo and even if that's not the case, Special Days showed in his third win last term that he can take it up if necessary.
Veni Vedi Vici, from the Caspar Fownes yard, shapes up as the danger after making pleasing progress in each of his runs since arriving from New Zealand.The gelding placed several times in Group company as a three-year-old in New Zealand, and was sold to Fownes after running second in the Group Two Avondale Guineas at 1,600m.
At his last start, Veni Vedi Vici went around wide on a limb in the mile race won by Sunny Golf on October 29. He has subsequently won a turf trial over 1,700m at Happy Valley under Olivier Doleuze and showed a nice change of gears in doing so.
Quick Touch, a Faltaat gelding prepared by Danny Shum Chap-shing, is lightly raced and very progressive.
He went for a spell as a winner in June, and returned the same way on October 12, landing a big betting move in finishing strongly for Mutual Fun (Darren Beadman) at 1,400m.
Quick Touch went to 1,600m after just 14 days for his second-up run and performed well under the circumstances for fourth to another of today's rivals in Best Friend, beaten one length.
Quick Touch has had a much more suitable break between runs this time (49 days), and showed his readiness for competition with an excellent solo gallop down the riverside on Thursday, under race rider Howard Cheng Yue-tin. The four-year-old put the 800m behind him in 47.1 seconds, the last 400m in 23.1 seconds without ever coming off the bridle.
Best Friend found the class rise against him last start, possibly conceding the leaders too much start in the Panasonic Cup won by Thumbs Up. Back to Class Two, Best Friend remains as one of the main chances, although he will get a proper workout here, having to give weight to all his main rivals.