Trainer David Hall's Optimization Star has taken more than a few runs to find his legs, but has been hitting the line strongly with the application of blinkers, including when fourth in the Class Four Sir Cecil's Ride Handicap over the extended Valley mile.
The late-maturing five year old showed his inexperience in his debut in December and was given a quiet time of things at the back in his other outings until blinkers went on last month at Sha Tin over 1,800m, rating much better around midfield for a closing 1-3/4-length fourth behind Super Strike.
With Tommy Berry taking over from Brett Prebble on Wednesday night, the Irish-bred settled at the rear and near the rails about 10 lengths off the leader Bullish Boy, but was travelling sweetly throughout. He cornered three-to-four deep and responded nicely under a left whip to just miss third in a ding-dong battle with Oyster over the final 50m, but was well-spaced by the winner Flying Elite and runner-up Bullish Boy.
Optimization Star has yet to live up to his rich pedigree but looks to be finding his way around and is the one to keep safe now.
He is by Noverre and is out of Kahyasi mare Razana.
Noverre was a Champion Miler in Europe as a three-year-old in 2001. Among his past five starters in Hong Kong, the retired Enriched (three wins 1,400m to 1,600m) and Enthusing (one at 1,650m) were the best bunch.
Razana won a 2,000m event at Chepstow and twice was a Listed placed and has produced five of six winners over 1,800m or further, including the 2008 Hong Kong Derby winner Helene Mascot.