HK Cup triumph is key to Collection's Dubai journey
The HK$20 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup will be one of the smaller fields sent out for the richest 2,000m event in the world on turf, but everything it lacks in numbers will be made up in excitement and the John Moore-trained Collection can put his stamp on it to open the way to a globetrotting future.
With stewards set to inspect top French galloper Vision D'Etat this morning before he is cleared to run, the Cup may be reduced to only nine runners.
However, that has not been a factor in the worth of the race in the past with only 10 runners when Vengeance Of Rain beat champion mare Pride four years ago, and just seven started when Frankie Dettori produced a brilliant ride on Ramonti to beat Viva Pataca in 2007.
And in Japanese visitor Queen Spumante, the race holds a vital card to ensure this year's Cup will have fans enthralled from the start.
The mare was an unheralded 76-1 chance breaking her stakes maiden in a Group One fillies and mares contest at Kyoto last start over 2,200m after she and another runner broke away dozens of lengths in front of the field by the halfway mark.
With no other obvious leader, her bold running style looks certain to keep Darren Beadman (Collection) and Kieren Fallon (Presvis) right on their toes on the two favourites, but Collection might be the one to get the most benefit by it in a race which has real significance to his immediate future, as Moore has hinted at a Dubai tilt with the four-year-old and success today would likely cement that plan in place.
From the treacherous 2,000m start, barrier 10 would have been a catastrophic draw for last season's Derby winner in a muddling speed, which has often been the case in past runnings of the race.
But the designated leader looks likely to string the field out and allow Beadman to find his way to a comfortable position.
Collection's International Trial win showed he is back on his game after some had been asking questions following a third successive loss first-up. The acceleration was there again, the win itself fairly soft and a fit and firing Collection is a serious horse over the 2,000m course that appears to be his best distance, though he probably doesn't have a lot of margin over Presvis in any case.
The draw immediately inside Collection was not as vital for Presvis, who simply drops out to the rear in his races anyway, though a good speed will doubtless be welcomed by his trainer Luca Cumani, too.
His preparation run on the all-weather in England certainly appeared just what was needed to have him ready.
And what of last year's winner Eagle Mountain? Mike de Kock was facing a massive task to have the horse ready after a poor effort in the Mile Trial at his first race for almost a year but the blame was laid squarely on fitness, and Eagle Mountain has been in boot camp ever since. His gallop on Friday morning was the first suggestion he is back but whether it is happening too late for this race remains the question.
2008 Eagle Mountain (SAF)
2007 Ramonti (UAE)
2006 Pride (FR)
2005 Vengeance Of Rain (HK)
2004 Alexander Goldrun (IRE)
2003 Falbrav (GB)
2002 Precision (HK)
2001 Agnes Digital (JPN)
2000 Fantastic Light (UAE)