Regency Champion has been knocking on the door and looks ready to score following a tough run in defeat in the Class Four Queen's Road East Handicap (1,200m) at Happy Valley.
The Tony Cruz-trained four-year-old showed improvement to win his final of five outings last season over the Sha Tin 1,200m but had a setback during the summer break when his tendons flared up in August.
His condition gave way when returning in November as the second favourite, but judging by his last four outings behind some promising types in Braveness and Great Charm he is coming back to form.
Drawing unfavourably in gate 11 with a switch back to the city course, Regency Champion was niggled to go forward after a good jump, but was still caught three deep without cover outside the leaders Ocean Wide and Impeccable.
He kept bowling along to get into the one-off position in second approaching the 600m, rushed up to share the lead at the 120m and was swamped in the final 20m for a placing.
Regency Champion has been stranded in Class Four by recurring tendon issues, but if all is well he certainly has the pedigree to be able to hold his own at least in Class Three.
He is a son of the speedball Stravinsky, who has successfully fathered 28 winners from 47 starters in Hong Kong, including Our Lucky Baby (seven 1,200m wins at Happy Valley) and the tough-as-nails sprinter Wine Win (nine wins over 1,000m or 1,200m at both courses).
Out of the Danehill mare Isle Of Gibraltar, who was a 1,400m winner, Regency Champion is thus a half-brother to smart stablemate Penglai Xianzi.