DAVID Hill's great run of form can continue with L'Enjoleur (Nap) in tonight's opening event on the Happy Valley grass.
There are few more atmospheric venues than a night meeting under lights at the city track and there's no better way to start a meeting than with a winner.
L'Enjoleur appears to fit the bill very nicely and is worth a win bet and two quinella wagers with the improving Jet Speed and Speed Age.
L'Enjoleur raced like a stayer last season but could never really get his act together. He then moved to Hill and this time round has finally started to fulfil the potential he had previously reserved for his trackwork only.
He was a wide-margin winner in a Class Six contest at Sha Tin and then came to the Valley to run a fine second to Gary Ng Ting-keung's progressive stayer Monopoly who has franked the form by running well since.
But it was L'Enjoleur's most recent effort that was his best. And there is no more important single factor in determining decent bets than useful recent form.
L'Enjoleur was a determined one-and-a-quarter lengths second to Mount Sapphire over tonight's course and distance of 2,230 metres, having been slightly unlucky in running.
Raymond Tsui on Mount Sapphire put up a vintage display on the winner, getting first run on Basil Marcus on L'Enjoleur at the top of the straight and keeping him boxed in a pocket. It was a fine piece of riding from the veteran local jockey.
Mount Sapphire would almost certainly have beaten L'Enjoleur anyway but the winning margin would have been reduced had tonight's nap been able to get out for a clear run with 300 metres to go.
The first three drew well clear of the rest that night which is always a sign of good form and the time of the race also indicates that this is form to rely on.
Mount Sapphire clocked two minutes 20.9 seconds for the Classes Five and Six event which was fully 1.2 seconds or some six lengths faster than the previous Class Five best for the distance.
Ivan Allan's Jet Speed must be considered a big danger. He ran really well last time out when second to Super Power over 1,800 metres at Sha Tin and visiting Club Jockey Greg Childs looks the kind of patient rider who will excel in distance races.
Speed Age, representing Derek Cruz, who is by no means out of the championship fray, looks the other to consider.
Speed Age is a confirmed stayer. He is returning from a four-month break in racing, starting for the first time since winning over 1,800 metres at Sha Tin.
But he has seldom worked better in the mornings, matching strides with Class Three stablemate New Leaf on Saturday morning and trouncing Actium.
Ivan Allan can maintain his outside attempt at the premiership with his Irish import, Pinch The Devil in the third.
Pinch The Devil was unlucky to come up against the distinctly useful Octagon Star last time and even then looked all over the winner with 200 metres to run.
Pinch The Devil eventually finished a clear second, having not helped his cause by missing the start and forcing Basil Marcus to work hard on him in the early stages to get him to the front. That initial effort took its toll in the closing stages.