Lucky Nine has feature at his mercy
The luxury of an ideal draw and a return to the scene of his biggest win can see the Caspar Fownes-trained Lucky Nine bounce back to winning form in the Group One Chairman's Sprint Prize (1,200m) at Sha Tin today.
The Hong Kong Sprint winner is looking for his third Group One victory and looks ideally placed after a Centenary Sprint Cup sixth where the plan just went completely wrong.
Fownes and jockey Tye Angland elected to ride Lucky Nine behind the speed that day up the straight and decided to follow favourite Little Bridge to take Lucky Nine into the race.
Little Bridge, however, was going nowhere when the tempo lifted mid-race and Lucky Nine was behind him, which meant the race got going without him and that was the story of an event which connections will have to put behind them, filed under the heading of experience.
Lucky Nine (Brett Prebble) got to the line well when clear and the return to 1,200m is all in his favour, especially with a good draw and a speed to camp behind.
John Moore has already signalled his intention to return Leading City to the only tactics that have ever won him a race - leading at a good speed and daring others to get by him. Blaze King and dirt-specialist Dynamic Blitz are also forward runners, but Blaze King is extremely doubtful at 1,200m and may sit in the box seat in an effort to run it out better, while Dynamic Blitz will have to work across from his wide draw to make his impression felt on the tempo.
In any case, a good speed is the promise and that will suit Lucky Nine, who can travel strongly in a race, and Prebble, who has a tremendous record on the gelding with nine rides for four wins and three seconds.
The questions are still out there for the main danger, Eagle Regiment (Olivier Doleuze), who has yet to show he is the same force around a turn but nor has he been convicted.
He had extenuating circumstances the only time he was tried around the circle in October - an out of character performance that would not have seen him win in Class Three - was freshened up and won both his straight outings since.
The latest was in that Centenary Sprint, when he was the first horse put under pressure in the race while others were still travelling easily, yet he was the one putting his head out at the finish.
That alone suggests 1,200m will hold no fears for him, if he can bring his 'A' game to the turns, and he, too, is drawn to have a nice run following the pace from his launch pad next door to Lucky Nine.
And the question is still out there for fading champion Sacred Kingdom, reunited with Gerald Mosse four years after the French ace was summarily sacked after a dreadfully unlucky Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup defeat. Has he still got it, or enough of it, to win another race? It's a question we have to ask every time he steps out. A career-worst in the Hong Kong Sprint, Sacred Kingdom was disappointing in the Centenary Sprint on face value after looking the winner at the 150m, but the hard evidence is that he was beaten half-a-length by Eagle Regiment and his performance was still superior to Little Bridge.
And there was nothing wrong with the effort of Rich Unicorn (Douglas Whyte) in that race, charging to the line in what is generally not the best part of the straight course. The gelding has an interesting statistic in his form - he has run at 1,000m only twice before and run below his peak each time, but each time he has come back to the Sha Tin 1,200m next start to win.
The number of rides Brett Prebble has had on Lucky Nine for four wins and three seconds