Light weight can help Kyara upstage stable star
John Moore looks the trainer to beat in the Panasonic Cup (1,400m) at Sha Tin today, but the race presents a classic handicapping conundrum that gives lesser-light Kyara a chance to score an upset for the yard.
Doubtless punters will pin their hopes to Darren Beadman's mount of the three Moore-trained runners, Captain Sweet, and it is difficult to argue with their thinking.
The Fastnet Rock four-year-old has won five of his nine starts, he has never missed a place, and by the end of this season will be fixed firmly among the top two or three sprinters, assuming he remains sound.
For Kyara (Jeff Lloyd), the story is somewhat different. He has won two of 14, is on his second trainer, has the odd bad habit and is unlikely to find himself beyond the top of Class Two even at his peak.
In short, their paths will likely diverge sharply after today, but it is today's winner that we are trying to find and this afternoon things promise to be competitive between them and Kyara is sure to be a better gamble at the odds on offer than his stablemate.
Keys in that assessment are the physical elements of the race - the 12 pounds difference in their handicap weights and particularly the wide starting gate for Captain Sweet in barrier 13.
In fact, if Beadman is able to work some magic and offset the gate to give Captain Sweet a good passage, the 12 pounds difference in weights may not be sufficient for Kyara to beat him, but the map reads as a difficult assignment.
Flying Colours and Bould Mover can both lead and there are several runners who will want to take a reasonably handy position, but it doesn't read as a mad tempo that strings the field out and opens up holes where Captain Sweet can drop in.
Nor does it look a soft tempo where Beadman might position Captain Sweet up close on the speed without working.
Somewhere he is going to need some luck to find a place wide with cover, but without having to go back to the rear of the field to find it, as he was forced to do over 1,200m first-up when a slashing third.
On the other hand, Kyara is drawn to find a good spot somewhere in the middle of the field, without Lloyd having to think about much more than keeping the gelding's head down and his mind focused.
While he has been tried at a mile and further, and did win a 1,650m at Happy Valley, Kyara's best performances have been in shorter events where he gets a decent speed and concentrates better, so that's what he will be wanting.
Lloyd has been Moore's go-to man for this kind of job in the past, getting the best from Mighty High, Destined For Glory and Jacobee at times in their careers when they have been tending towards being difficult rides, and Kyara has a similar look about his manners.
The Paul O'Sullivan-trained New Vision (Douglas Whyte) has his acid test after a stroll second-up at this distance when he carried only 116 pounds and beat Easy Winner and Majestic Falcon.
The opposition is better here, he climbs quickly in the weights but he has looked a better animal in his two wins.
Right down in the weights, the Almond Lee-trained Gift Is Gift (Keith Yeung Ming-lun) also represents a threat despite meeting defeat for the first time first-up this term. He is another with a tricky draw and is unknown at 1,400m, but he has his share of talent and 109 pounds aboard.