Matthew Chadwick hopes California Memory's class can overcome some distance queries and carry him to Sunday's Group One Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup, where he believes the biggest danger is stablemate Willie Cazals as the pair aim to give Tony Cruz his first win in the race as a trainer.
Cruz won the race three times as a jockey, including on Makarpura Star for John Moore in 1995 when he dead-heated with Survey King, and it is Moore who provides the biggest threat to his pair with Dominant. But according to Chadwick, California Memory and Willie Cazals - who will be ridden by Gerald Mosse - should both be rated ahead of the back-to-back Queen Mother Memorial Cup winner.
"Those three horses are definitely the standouts, but California Memory is by far the best horse in the race, and Willie Cazals is the one I fear most - and I think they can both beat Dominant," said Chadwick, who rode Willie Cazals in his six previous starts, including a narrow last-start second to Dominant over 2,400m in the Queen Mother Memorial Cup.
Chadwick and California Memory have combined for a pair of Hong Kong Cups and Hong Kong Gold Cup - all over 2,000m - and were a hard-closing second behind Military Attack in the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup at the course and distance last start. But this will be the first time, after 33 lifetime starts, the seven-year-old grey has been stretched beyond that 2,000m, which shouldn't be a problem if the circumstances are right, according to Chadwick.
"If we can get a decent draw, and some cover in the run, he should run it out," Chadwick said. "I'd like as easy a run as possible, but I'd still like to be sitting a bit closer in the run, like we have been when we have won the internationals."
A sluggish tempo similar to the Queen Mother Cup dawdle would also turn things in California Memory's favour.
"If it just turned into a sit-and-sprint, I would be very confident, because there are not many horses who can finish off a last 400m like he can at Sha Tin. If I get the right run, and don't get boxed in, I think he will be hard to beat."