Champion trainer John Size has ruled Real Specialist out of this weekend's Jockey Club Mile and will rely on a freshly blinkered Glorious Days as he attempts to turn the tables on Ambitious Dragon.
Size and Real Specialist's ownership made the decision yesterday to bypass Sunday's Group Two event and target the Class One race over 1,400m on international day, for which the horse remains eligible after his rating was reassessed to 114 for his Panasonic Cup win last Saturday.
"It might be his last chance to run in a Class One. Once he gets past a 115 rating there'll be no shortage of hard races to run in. There won't be anything else and it can get fairly frustrating performing well to run your sixth or seventh in the Group Ones but unable to win," Size said.
"Real Specialist has made his progression fairly gradually, not rocketed through the ranks. He's done well but he isn't limitless, so the thing to do is give him a chance to win the Class One before he has to run into the big horses."
Size's own big horse, Glorious Days, has had a run of four seconds from five starts since he graduated into the upper echelons and the trainer had foreshadowed the application of blinkers after the Sha Tin Trophy defeat by Ambitious Dragon.
"Glorious Days doesn't have to improve much to win a big race, and so I thought we'd try him in blinkers," Size said. "They might just sharpen him up and help him travel better through the run, instead of being on and off the bridle as he has been at times. He's done everything right since the first run back; there's been no adverse effect on him."
Size will also be represented in the Jockey Club Cup by Derby winner Fay Fay, who was eighth in the Sha Tin Trophy (1,600m) when resuming.
"Fay Fay hasn't shown he's up to these top horses yet, but we may know more after Sunday. He was flat footed in the mile and getting up to 2,000m looks a more suitable distance," he said.
John Moore will have five runners in each of the traditional international lead-up events, with Neil Callan, who will begin a three-month stint at the end of the month, licensed to come in for Sunday and partner Moore-trained Dominant in the Jockey Club Cup.
The foreign contenders for the Longines Hong Kong International Races next month are also starting to firm up, ahead of the formal announcement next Wednesday of the invited fields.
Sydney trainer John O'Shea has confirmed Australian sprinting mare Sea Siren has come through her second in the Patinack Farm Classic in good shape and is all systems go to run in the Hong Kong Sprint.
Luca Cumani-trained My Quest For Peace, 10th in the Melbourne Cup, is a likely visitor for the Vase (2,400m) and that also remains an option for 2011 Vase third Red Cadeaux, owned by former Jockey Club chairman Ronald Arculli.
The Ed Dunlop-trained stayer contests the Japan Cup on November 25 but Dunlop, the winner with Ouija Board in 2005, is one of several trainers who have had good results in the Vase backing up from the Japan Cup and that has not been ruled out for Red Cadeaux. Also on a path to the Vase are last year's winner Dunaden and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe eighth Sea Moon.
The Jockey Club yesterday confirmed championship leader Zac Purton will be Hong Kong's representative in the World Super Jockeys series in Japan on November 24 and 25.