John Size fears Champions Mile glory will go to overseas runner for first time
Foreign contenders will be competitive, says Hong Kong trainer
An overseas-trained runner has never won the Champions Mile, but trainer John Size fears this could change and his horse, Glorious Days, may struggle to replicate the same show-stopping performance he produced to win the Longines Hong Kong Mile in December.
A freshened Glorious Days stormed home on international day as a highly credentialed group of visitors failed to show their best.
But on slightly softer ground in the spring, Size says a visiting quartet led by Variety Club has a great chance to break the locals' dominance of the race.
"It might look the same sort of race as international day, but it is at a different time of the season and that is important," Size said.
"Normally in December it seems like the home-town advantage comes to the fore and it feels like the Hong Kong horses have a distinct advantage.
"But I think at this time of the year it's a little bit different even though the Hong Kong horses have won each running of the race.
"The visitors might have a better chance because I'm not sure the track is as quick as it is in December and the visitors sometimes get a surprise with the firmness of the surface on international day. They will certainly be competitive this weekend."
Size singled out South African-trained Variety Club as the horse to beat, describing him as still relatively untapped and citing his adaptability to different conditions.
"He looks outstanding," Size said. "I'm not sure we've had a horse with those sort of credentials come here before. He looks an excellent prospect."
Size didn't leave out John Moore's Able Friend, describing the four-year-old's potential as "immeasurable".
"There's no containing him at the moment and we just don't know where he is going," he said.
Size has given Glorious Days a similar let-up into tomorrow's race as he employed before international day, but his gut feeling is the six-year-old won't quite match that rating.
"I feel like that was his personal best, so by definition he can't run that again," Size said.
"Maybe if he can run close to that, that might be good enough. He just hasn't given me as good a feel as he did in December."
Meanwhile, Tony Cruz is hoping the same on-pace dominance repeats in tomorrow's race for the sake of Blazing Speed, one of three runners for the trainer, along with California Memory and Zaidan.
"Blazing Speed is my best chance from gate one. From there Neil [Callan] can keep him up close and he should run a hell of a race," he said.
"This is way too short for California Memory and he is returning from a long break. I would be happy to see him run home for fourth of fifth."