Bold'N Power, with the form to his name, can prove more reliable than trackstar Aficionado in an uncompetitive opening event to this evening's Happy Valley proceedings.
The Alex Wong Siu-tan-trained Bold'N Power dead-heated three starts ago with Jet Jackson, who has won again since. Following that split decision, Bold'N Power has run two solid races in defeat, finishing fifth on both occasions over tonight's minimum Valley sprint trip of 1,000 metres. Those efforts came behind runaway winner My Honour and then when chasing home Eternal Start.
He had to be withdrawn from his most recent intended start due to bursting through the barriers. That looked an ideal dirt sprint for him and he had been working extremely well in readiness for it. Tonight he gets every chance to gain compensation for missing that race as this is just about the weakest Class Four sprint that trainer Wong Siu-tan could have hoped to find, with Bold'N Power the clear form pick.
The five-year-old son of Clay Hero has drawn well in barrier two and should be able to grab the rails and get the run of the race. No one will appreciate this more than his pilot, the crack New Zealand jockey Shane Dye, who swots up the form for each race he's riding in as if he were sitting an Oxbridge entrance exam.
Bold'N Power may also start at backable odds, too, as Aficionado is sure to carry plenty of tickets on his continued seemingly brilliant trackwork. For instance, he was a runaway winner of a recent barrier trial down the straight 1,000-metre chute and trainer Lawrie Fownes and jockey Wendyll Woods are on the crest of a wave following Sunday's fabulous three-timer.
Fownes has basically played the last card left to him - bar racing Aficionado on the dirt - by dropping him back to a 1,000-metre dash round a bend. It is possible that this will provide the key to the Marscay youngster, but it is also just as likely that he's a much better worker than he is a racehorse. That is the evidence from his races to date and why preference - in one of the 'thinnest' races of the season, despite the full field of 14 runners - is for Bold'N Power, who has the sprint form on the board.
The other main form pick is the Francis Lui-trained Speedy Dragon, who has been racing consistently well without quite getting his head in front. However he's going to have to jump out of barrier 12, from where he will have to work hard to win. He remains a solid quinella chance.
Landlord was racing much better for Brian Kan Ping-chee but then last time out reverted to his habit of completely blowing the start. If he's a big enough price put him in, but otherwise treat him with caution due to his bad barrier manners.
Heavenly Wind is in the worst race he's probably ever contested but the evidence from the track is that he will still need the outing. He did little on his belated debut for the Derek Cruz stable and has clearly not been the easiest horse to train.
Elsewhere on the card, the improving Goldchin Best should go really well in the fourth event. He has the scope to reverse recent form with his main danger, Sea Pearl, who is another representing the in-form Fownes-Woods connection.
Lead To Win looks hard to beat in the fifth. He's again drawn wider than ideal but has been racing well all season and this looks the easiest contest he's been in for a while. Trainer Peter Ng Bik-kuen's team is now going better and jockey John Egan is riding out of his boots.
Dye has every chance of completing a double on American Champion in the sixth. This feature event promises to be run at a solid pace and that's exactly what the well-drawn American Champion requires.
Kinane back next week
Mick Kinane is to begin a two-month stint as a Club Jockey at the Chinese New Year meeting on Friday week.
The big-race specialist and former retained rider for David Oughton will end his stay in Hong Kong on March 25.