Trainer John Moore has high expectations for Xtension in tomorrow's Group Two HK$3 million Chairman's Trophy, 1,600m at Sha Tin, but with the proviso that the race is not his number one target.
"I'm sure he'll go close on Sunday, but he isn't right at his peak yet - that will be in the Champions Mile when he tries to win it for the third year in a row," Moore said yesterday.
Moore is four-handed in a race which he has virtually shared with John Size over the past seven runnings, with Moore taking three, Size three and Andreas Schutz the other.
Last year, Moore won it with Admiration, who is among his team tomorrow but ranks lower in the pecking order behind Xtension who has Zac Purton aboard for the first time.
"Admiration hasn't really been in the same form this year going into the race but he has a good draw, so we have to hope for improvement," Moore said.
Xtension was another struggling for form earlier in the season, but Moore is quietly confident that the gelding is back on top of his game after impressing in his lead-up to the Gold Cup and then his third-place finish in that race in February.
"I think he's back. He had quite a serious bacterial infection in November or thereabouts and it knocked him sideways," Moore explained. "It has taken time for him to get back to par, both physically and also in terms of his confidence. His last run was much better and so is his work in the mornings, he looks better and all the signs are that he is going to be spot on for the Champions Mile."
Today's racing in Sydney might offer a guide as to the horses which might oppose Xtension in the Champions Mile, with two runners in the Group One George Ryder Stakes being discussed as potential visitors, King Mufhasa and Shoot Out.
In the other upcoming international feature, Jockey Club officials are hopeful that the Audemars Piguet QE II might attract the winner and runner-up from the Dubai Duty Free, Sajjha and The Apache. Both are understood to be likely visitors even though Sajjha does not currently have an entry.
"At this stage, we don't have a supplementary entry for Sajjha yet but they close on Monday - we would be delighted to have him," said Jockey Club executive director of racing Bill Nader.