Sichuan Success gives Size reason to dream
Six-times champion trainer John Size has been to the showpiece meeting under the glare of expectation in the past - and Entrapment will still carry some of that in the Hong Kong Sprint - but he is uncharacteristically upbeat about his Mile runners.
Entrapment was the rising comet of 2009-10, unbeaten as the first horse to win seven races in a season, then things took a turn for the Nancy Drew.
In October last year, Entrapment suddenly appeared to have little control over his left hind leg. He was in no pain and an army of vets could not find a problem or the solution. He missed the entire season.
One day, the problem righted itself and Entrapment began working again on a regular basis in February, Size patiently ticking him over for the rest of last season without running, to ensure that all was well.
A triumphant return in October after 17 months away made it eight from eight, but defeats by Rich Unicorn and then Little Bridge left some wondering if Entrapment has shown all his cards. Some perhaps, but not Size (pictured).
'Even though he was beaten, he has held his form level, and is so consistent it makes you think there is more,' he said. 'I wouldn't say he has improved or gone backwards since last time - he is always the same at home. He has been wanting to get on with his race before the turn and the horses around him haven't, and that hasn't suited him. I'm expecting a better pace in this international than we've had in the local races, and that might be when he can show us that extra step.'
The Mile has hardly been kind to Size, who has finished second three times with a favourite. He won't have the same sort pressure this time.
Sichuan Success was a luckless fifth in the Sha Tin Trophy late in October before missing the Jockey Club Mile with a foot injury.
'I really didn't mind him having some time off,' Size said. 'He doesn't carry any weight on him and has always run very well fresh. All he had was a week off, enough to miss that race, but not serious and it hasn't hurt him. I'm confident he'll run well. Drawing 13 wasn't part of the plan, but he worked well on Wednesday.' Flying Blue will be under the radar after he was interfered with in his early runs this campaign before showing something more like top form when third in the Jockey Club Mile.
'He trained strongly since his good run the other day and I thought he might go a little bit better again on Sunday,' Size said. 'It looks a tactical race, and at times the races here recently have been too slowly run for him, but if that's how it is, we'll be letting him roll along.'