Consistent Sapelli fits the bill for Vase
Underrated Sapelli was back to his best last start over the Sha Tin 1,800m and a light weight and good draw can see him take out the Group Three Centenary Vase today.
The John Size-trained gelding has won four of his nine starts over the 1,800m course at headquarters and struck his best payday there winning the Group Three Premier Plate in March last year with an advantage at the weights.
Sapelli (Douglas Whyte) didn't have the ideal trip when he failed at the distance three starts ago, but has since put things back in order with strong finishing 1,600m run and then a solid Class Two win last time out.
While this race promises less of a tempo than the last outing, Sapelli can box seat with a positive ride early.
Super Pistachio is a regular leader in gate five and Packing Ok (Darren Beadman), the only horse drawn under Sapelli, will likely go forward and stay in touch with the front runner, but there looks no other speed in the race and a position in touch will be vital.
Beadman may allow Super Pistachio to cross early, then come to his outside, which would see Sapelli tracking up handy behind them in the soft tempo.
Key for him will be at what point the leaders kick for home, so Sapelli can get clear and engage the front-runners from early in the straight, as he is always at his best in a fight and tough to get past if he finds the top of the race, especially with no weight on his back. His lesser runs have tended to be when out of touch in modest tempos and he simply hasn't had the turn of foot to make up the ground.
In the Ladies' Purse earlier in the season, he was too far back and inside horses with nothing to take him into the race won by Jacobee (Jeff Lloyd), but he finished better than any runner to be beaten under two lengths and meets that winner on better terms today.
Sapelli has built a career around being short of the top class but nevertheless a consistent competitor and that profile fits the winners of the Centenary Vase in most years.
Jacobee still looks a danger - he has some unfinished business in the race after being unlucky 12 months ago in his only defeat at this trip - and so does the John Moore-trained stablemate Packing Ok.
He didn't have an excuse when overpowered late by Pure Champion (Gerald Mosse) at Happy Valley last time, but has a five-pound weight turnaround on the top weight, who was heavily penalised for the victory and goes to 133 pounds.
Packing Ok will be the horse taking over from Super Pistachio at the top of the straight and it is questionable whether Pure Champion will get as good a run into the race as he did at the Valley.
Although wide, he had Mighty High bringing him up to the leaders at the right time in a race run at a decent tempo, and he may not be as well suited if it is stop-start.
Nevertheless, he remains a danger even with the big weight as Pure Champion not looked to be far behind the Group One performers this season since finding his best form.
The prize money (in HK dollars) the John Size-trained Sapelli has won from 48 starts