Fay Fay the one, despite pace worries
The Group One Mercedes-Benz Classic Mile today looks a moderate test of the stamina needed for the four-year-old races to come and that looks the greatest danger to the John Size-trained Fay Fay taking it out.
What the race will tell us about the Classic Cup and Hong Kong Derby ahead is open to query, but the Classic Mile is an interesting race in itself and a chance for Size to strike a blow at the top level.
Fay Fay (Douglas Whyte) looks the right favourite for the race, but the tempo and an inside barrier draw look to be the most powerful enemies for the Falkirk gelding.
With eight starts for five wins and three seconds, Fay Fay has barely put a foot out of place in his career to date. He is unbeaten at 1,600m and unbeaten in four races this season, rising through the handicap ranks from a 67 rating to his 110 figure now.
In a truly-run race, with clear galloping room, Fay Fay would be the likely winner and he deserves to be the favourite. When he has had a solid pace, Fay Fay has won very comfortably, including his latest outing. When the tempo has been soft is when Fay Fay has been less impressive, winning ugly as he did second and third up this season, but he has continued to win and there is much to be said for that.
This is by far his toughest test, as the last-start Class Two winner rising in grade in what is essentially a Class One standard race, while Admiration (Tim Clark) and Captain Sweet (Jeff Lloyd) are, with Sweet Orange (Weichong Marwing) and Longwah Supreme (Brett Prebble) the horses dropping down from what was previously known as Premier class.
Perhaps Captain Sweet and Admiration might be considered stamina doubts at 1,600m, but stamina may not be an issue unless someone makes a decision to run the race along.
Outsider Packing Tycoon has gone forward in his recent races and might lead from Admiration and Captain Sweet, but that is by no means a given and there is no reason to think that whoever leads will want to set a strong tempo.
That's when Fay Fay's low draw could help him lay up closer than usual, but could also become a problem if he is bottled up between horses turning into the straight and battling to get the revs up while other horses in clear room are able to get going. Who knows, perhaps even Smart Giant (Darren Beadman) might race forward in a soft tempo rather than give away a start in a slow pace. He can sprint hard at the finish off no speed and so can Sweet Orange.
The tempo scenario opens the door for quite a few runners.
Admiration is the most seasoned runner with 16 starts and he is also the only one to have run at the top level, as he has mixed it with the best sprinters lately.
That will have him battle hardened back in this grade and he looks the major danger to Fay Fay. Though he looked unable to run out 1,600m last season at three, he has looked more dour this campaign, and it won't surprise if he runs the trip well.
The history of the Classic Mile shows several winners who really weren't milers, but high-grade sprinters that could just about run 1,600m - Scintillation, Charming City, even last year's winner, Lucky Nine - and that is where Admiration fits in.
The prize money Fay Fay has earned for his five wins and three placings from eight starts