Talented Entrapment can get back in the groove
Entrapment may have been suffering second-up syndrome when his unbeaten bubble burst last start, but he still has upside and can claim his place as the leading domestic hope in next month's international feature with a win in today's Jockey Club Sprint.
Entrapment's trainer John Size maintained his horse had merely maintained his form when third behind stablemate Rich Unicorn and rival Little Bridge in the Premier Bowl three weeks ago, a race which snapped his winning run at eight.
But there is little doubt the five-year-old's best racing is ahead of him and he can improve on that effort, which all-in-all, wasn't bad.
The set weights and penalties conditions of the Group Two suit Entrapment, who meets rivals on a level-playing field after heaving 129 pounds in the Premier Bowl.
As well as carrying weight against top-class opposition for the first time, things didn't go his way in the run either. He was crowded for galloping room as he tussled with Little Bridge up the straight and didn't get much time to gather himself for the sprint home. A rusty performance can be forgiven second-up after a 15-month break and a better outing can be expected this time around.
The Jockey Club Sprint provides the pathway to the main event - the Hong Kong Sprint on December 11 - which this year looks to be lacking a genuine international superstar on top of their game.
Rocket Man has lost some of his swagger and other than Black Caviar, who isn't coming, there is a scarcity of star-quality sprinters worldwide, which leaves things open to the high-quality locals.
One of them is Danny Chap-shing's Little Bridge. He beat Entrapment home last start and didn't get his own way in the run their either.
Zac Purton was forced to spear across from a wide gate and sit outside the speed, which is not his strength - he usually sits and sprints from around midfield.
Gerald Mosse replaces Purton and gets the benefit of gate five, which gives him the tactical advantage over Whyte on Entrapment in seven.
Entrapment may have upside, but an argument could be made that Little Bridge has yet to hit his peak.
His first loss was in this race one year ago, when third at his sixth race start. After that he followed the wayward path of many a four-year-old and was taken on an unsuccessful Derby campaign.
Back to the short course events, he was second behind Joy And Fun on the first day of the season and never got a crack at Entrapment in the Sha Tin Sprint Trophy when blocked for a run. Now five, he has had 13 starts - but take away his runs over unsuitable journeys and his record reads like a good horse that could improve.
John Moore's up-and-comer Admiration is the least-exposed runner at this level and provides the x-factor.
The four-year-old showed he wasn't out of his depth in top company when chiming in for fifth over an unsuitable 1,000m in the Sha Tin Sprint Trophy.
Since then, he ran slick time (1.08.18) in a ratings-boosting 1,200m dirt win that will have primed the robust gelding's fitness for this, where he has drawn two.
If the pace turns suicidal in front and the leaders start shortening stride late, look for in-form veteran Joy And Fun or Rich Unicorn to make their presence felt.
After winning the Chief Executive's Cup, Joy And Fun ran on for fourth in the Premier Bowl. Gate 11 means he'll likely be last in the run and will need luck.
Rich Unicorn has drawn one and from there won't have to spend a penny until late, when he can unleash a finishing burst.
The prize money, in HK dollars, Entrapment - who has won eight times - has collected from nine starts