Tony Cruz is more concerned about a hefty weight stifling California Memory in tomorrow's Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy than a reoccurrence of the joint soreness that plagued his gutsy grey last season.
California Memory won the corresponding fixture first-up 12 months ago, beginning a preparation that netted the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup, but then went slowly downhill as he battled leg issues.
The joint problems are "under control" after treatment according to Cruz, but it is second-top weight of 130 pounds - seven more than last year - that the trainer said could leave California Memory anchored.
"He is in great shape right now and I'm happy with the way he is coming into the race," Cruz said. "His best attribute is that he has got great acceleration from the top of the straight, but as much as I can see him coming on very strongly at the finish, that weight will slow him down and I think the distance might be a bit short.
"I haven't had to train him any differently because of the joint problems though, and as long as his joints aren't hurting him then he is OK, and I'm sure he'll run a big race."
The six-year-old trialled well over 1,700m at Happy Valley two weeks ago, which boosted Cruz's confidence as he heads back to defend his international day crown, via the Jockey Club Cup, the same pattern as last year.
"He was strong there in that trial, he came steaming home, [jockey] Matthew [Chadwick] was very happy with him and he pulled up very clean," he said.
Cruz also saddles up Pure Champion (Tye Angland), who looks out of his depth class-wise with 127 pounds, but who his trainer labelled an "1,800m" horse that would nevertheless be aimed at the Longines Hong Kong Mile, rather than the 2,000m Cup.
Meanwhile, John Moore played down Xtension's withdrawal as only a minor setback and said he would take his place in the Jockey Club Mile on November 18.
"It was just some corrective shoeing that was required after some joint problems and it has improved out of sight already," Cruz said. "He won't miss any work and everybody saw him out there in full work this morning."