Hong Kong dominated the first leg of the Interport series at Sha Tin last month, but the two horses from the city travelling to a sodden Taipa racecourse for the second leg tomorrow face a much tougher task.
The Tony Cruz-trained Real Supreme and Michael Chang Chun-wai's Noble Alpha take on eight locals in the Macau Hong Kong Trophy.
"Real Supreme is the right type of horse to go there," said Cruz, who won both legs of the series in 2005 with Helene Pillaging. "He has early speed, and that helps, and I think can handle that going - it is going to be heavy. He has won on good to yielding at home - and even though Hong Kong horses never get to race on a track as heavy as we might get there, I'm guessing and relying on the fact he will handle it."
In the first leg, in which neither Real Supreme or Noble Alpha competed, the four Macau-trained runners were among the last five across the line. The best was Lucky Jai (10th), and he is back for the return bout, as is Gary Moore's Absolutely Win, who set a breakneck speed at Sha Tin; his presence gives Noble Alpha's jockey Olivier Doleuze added confidence.
"There will be a lot of pace, and in a race like this, you need to get the right run and be following the right horse, because the way I see the race, there are a few horses with no chance," said Doleuze, drawn nine of 10 in the 1,500metre race.
Noble Alpha won his first start in a race at Frankfurt on a surface rated yielding. "[Because of that] I don't think the ground is a major concern for my horse, actually I'm pretty happy that the ground is heavy," Doleuze said.
The horse has not won since his second local start 18 months ago, but has been placed seven times in 14 starts since, his best recent form on the all-weather.
"He has given me a good feel at trackwork," Doleuze added.