Honest in racehorse form doesn't come any better than Vitality Express and the John Size-trained five-year-old gets the right formula at Happy Valley tonight to score a feature win in the Hong Kong Football Club 125th Anniversary Cup (1,800m).
In 10 local starts, the son of Zabeel has missed a prize cheque only on his debut and he has been an owner's dream with two wins and five minor placings and almost HK$1.9 million in the bank.
Although yet to win at Happy Valley, Vitality Express (Douglas Whyte) has yet to miss a place in four attempts at the track and he was arguably a little unlucky in the latest of those when Fearless (Maxime Guyon) ran him down in the final stages of a similar race on January 12.
Ironically it was stablemate Almighty Windpower who proved the problem that evening, with Vitality Express held up behind that four-year-old, while Fearless was winding up for a big finish and had momentum on the Size galloper in the closing stages.
So often the type of horse that assembles a record like Vitality Express is an on-pace runner who doesn't usually have the same traffic issues that can beset the backmarker and that tactical speed is going to stand Vitality Express in good stead.
From barrier five, Whyte should have his pick of the good spots early in the race, whether the tempo proves to be hot or just lukewarm, with the gelding parking up handy or further off them if necessary.
While Whyte is getting ready to press the button on Vitality Express, some of his major rivals in Bouncer (Jack Tong Chi-kit), Fearless, Straight Forward (Gerald Mosse) and Holiday Sun (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu), will be looking for clear room to finish the race off from further back in the field.
The Caspar Fownes-trained Bouncer could prove the best of them with only a light weight to carry and back to his preferred track. The move to Sha Tin last time was the best excuse for his lacklustre effort, backing up days after a terrific effort at the Valley over 1,650m.
While Bouncer has won at Sha Tin, his record shows a superior horse on the Valley surface and the gap between his performances at the two tracks has been growing wider with the years. Drawn in, he will need luck, as ever, but his run behind Fluke with the tempo not in his favour suggested the seven-year-old remains in good form.
Vitality Express has been to the races 10 times for two wins and five placings for prize money of: $1.86m