Dashing stayer Willie Cazals remains on track for his "mission impossible" to see off the foreigners in next month's Longines Hong Kong Vase, despite a minor injury setback which has dampened trainer Tony Cruz's confidence ahead of Sunday's Sa Sa Ladies' Purse.
No local horse has won the Vase since Indigenous in 1998 and it has largely been the playground of European stars, but Cruz has been bullish that Willie Cazals - whose greatest claim has been relegating Arc winner Danedream to third in the Derby Italiano - might break the spell.
Cruz and John Moore have carved up the last 12 Ladies' Purses with four wins each and, when Willie Cazals produced an eye-catcher first-up behind stablemate Blazing Speed over 1,600 metres, Cruz forecast the order could be reversed this time.
"Willie Cazals is coming along OK but he did have a small setback in training. He bumped a leg and had a little bruising on one tendon - not serious but enough that he missed two days' work," Cruz said. "In terms of the Vase, it isn't important - that race is still a long way away - but it means he isn't absolutely 100 per cent for this one, even though I think he'll still be competitive."
It may not be enough to stop Cruz winning the Group Three race anyway, with the trainer more enthusiastic now that Blazing Speed can be the better of his runners again.
"The only thing I'm worried about is the 133 pounds, but otherwise I'm very happy with him," Cruz said.
"He is stronger this season and the best I've seen him yet. He's a horse with high potential, still on the rise and this race will tell us if he's headed to the internationals, but I would prefer to drop back to 1,600m if he does go there.
"He'll get 1,800m but he's not a 2000m horse."
Gerald Mosse is conservative about Willie Cazals' chance in the Vase - a race the rider has won previously on Daryakana and defending champion Red Cadeaux - but he is confident of improvement on Sunday.
"This is probably his minimum distance, but he will be better suited than last time," Mosse said. "Whether he can win a Vase, I'm not sure.
"It depends on the horses which come from Europe and there may be horses from the Melbourne Cup, so it's difficult to say until we see the opposition. From the Hong Kong horses, I would say I'm sure he will be the best."