Trainer Caspar Fownes claims tomorrow's Group One Chairman's Sprint Prize is "all over" if his sprinter, Lucky Nine, gets the right run from a good draw.
Fownes is confident his battle-hardened veteran can repel a couple of up-and-coming stars. Lucky Nine vied for the lead last start in the Centenary Sprint Cup, but failed to finish off at the end of the 1,000 metres, in a race where placegetters Frederick Engels and Best Eleven, both rivals tomorrow, asserted themselves as big-race contenders.
But back to his pet course and distance - 1,200m at Sha Tin - Fownes was adamant that if jockey Brett Prebble finds an ideal spot in running from gate five, then Lucky Nine has the race at his mercy.
"If he can find a spot one out and one back, with a bit of luck, then it should be all over. We're pretty confident," Fownes said.
Lucky Nine has won four races at the course and distance, including the 2011 Hong Kong Sprint, and was second to Joy And Fun in this race last year.
"There is no excuse," Fownes said. "He is in great form and even though you've got a couple of good young horses in Frederick Engels and Best Eleven and they ran great down the straight, now we've got to see what they are like around the turn.
"The 1,000m at Sha Tin is such a specialist course and Lucky Nine pinged the gates, found himself near the front and it was a bit much for him. He likes to chase a bit."
Fownes certainly wasn't discounting the claims of Frederick Engels and Best Eleven in the second leg of the Speed Series, saying they looked next in line to fill a void at the top end of the sprinting ranks.
"They're right there. They are now proven at Group One level," he said. "They were down in the ratings but ran enormous races at set weights. So let's see, if they beat us, they're obviously better. If that happens we'll have to stretch our horse's distance."
Lucky Nine would need to be "impressive" to warrant a return to Dubai for next month's Golden Shaheen, where he ran third last year.
Frederick Engels is also pushing for an invite to Dubai and is one of five runners for John Moore, the trainer supplying more than half of the nine-horse field. "The horses that ran in the 1,000m race were only getting going when it was all over, it topped them off nicely," Moore said.
"We'd love Frederick Engels to go to Dubai and race on the Tapeta track. We think it would really suit his action, he would really bounce off it. We'd certainly like him to perform up to his best at this level.
"A first or second in this race would certainly help our cause, but I still think the one to beat is Lucky Nine."