Trainer John Moore is open about his expectations taking 11 horses to Sunday's international trial events with an eye to the Longines Hong Kong International Races, and is just as certain the best is still three weeks away.
Most of the local contenders step out on Sunday, and the invited foreign raiders will be named next Wednesday as the Sha Tin showpiece takes shape.
"It's always an exciting time. I'd say we can come away with two of the three on Sunday even though they aren't quite 100 per cent - you want them peaking December 8," Moore said.
His team are bristling with top-grade talent, with Horse Of The Year Military Attack in the Longines Jockey Club Cup along with Dominant, Same World and Ashkiyr, while the yard dominates the Jockey Club Sprint field with Sterling City and Frederick Engels, either of which might stamp himself the Hong Kong Sprint favourite with the right performance.
"Frederick Engels is better for the first run behind Sterling City and the way he closed that off and the weight turnaround makes me think he's the one to beat but Sterling City is going really well," Moore said.
But the second-up effort of Military Attack stepping back to the 2,000m where he has won the QE II Cup, Gold Cup and Singapore International Cup is going to attract the most attention.
"He got to the line strongly over the 1,600m and I'm very happy with him since. His work was strong on Monday with Dan Excel and he's going to be hard to beat coming back to set weights," Moore said. "His grand final is the Hong Kong Cup but he's fit enough to win, and I think anyone who was disappointed with Dominant's first run should look out for a much better run from him too."
The Cup looks devoid of pace, like so many of these top-grade middle-distance races, and Moore said he can see Same World being thrust into the role of frontrunner.
"Liberator likes to get forward, too, but as he has got older he seems to take some time to get there so Same World could be left in front, like he was in the Gold Cup," Moore said. "If Military Attack can draw a decent barrier, we might be able to have him closer and getting the box seat run he had there, too."
The yard isn't quite as strong in the mile division with Dan Excel, Destined For Glory and Xtension Moore's representatives and he concedes Gold-Fun looks the one to beat.
"Dan Excel is good enough, as we've seen, but his preparation was set back in the early stages with a viral issue, so he probably needs another run to get back to the form he was in when he won the Champions Mile," Moore said. "Gold-Fun looks the one to beat, along with Caspar's horses, but he will find it tougher going from handicaps to the set weights."