Fans of the Triple Trio get a rare chance to pick through a pair of Group Ones on Sunday but it is in the Class Two mile where the best banker can be found in the form of John Moore-trained import Victory Magic.
Purchased by Moore out of Australia after an unplaced run in the Victoria Derby, Victory Magic arrived with a rating of 83 courtesy of seconds at Listed and Group Two level when racing under the name Atmosphere for Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young.
Last season’s uninspiring three-run campaign for Moore was typical of a new horse and a strong last-start second over a mile indicates Victory Magic has fully acclimatised and he is ready to push for a place in next month’s Classic Mile with a Class Two win over the same course and distance.
Chad Schofield retains the ride on the son of Savabeel after he was held up for a run at a crucial stage last time out before Victory Magic worked home nicely to finish less than a length away from Secret Weapon.
On that occasion, Schofield was forced to surrender ground at the start and go back to last from barrier 14. This time, gate four is a better starting spot, although it does seem Victory Magic appreciates being ridden quietly and being allowed time to wind up with his sprint.
The only concern is that while Victory Magic was able to perform well first-up over a mile, perhaps he will now need further – a theory his performances in Australia would support.
Victory Magic’s stablemate Werther should be included, even with a couple of notable concerns of his own.
Consistently backing imports first-up in Class Two is a sure-fire path to the poorhouse and that, combined with the fact Werther looks like he needs 2,000m or even further to show his best, is a worry. Yet Werther’s trials have been lively and the dual Derby runner-up is perhaps worth a second look.
A low draw for Apollo’s Choice (Douglas Whyte) brings the David Hall-trained five-year-old right into the race, while his stablemate Brilliant Dream (Tommy Berry) has to be taken on trust.
Brilliant Dream, a son of Danerich, has won his way into Class Two with wins over 1,200m and 1,400m, but failed at his only try over 1,600m last season when given every chance to get the trip.
Ishvara, with Joao Moreira on for the first time and reaching full fitness at his third run off a long break, is the biggest danger, while Photon Willie (Umberto Rispoli) also deserves some consideration.
The TT, which carries a small HK$4.5 million jackpot, opens with the Longines Hong Kong Vase, where there is no reason to go away from last year’s winner Flintshire (Vincent Cheminaud) as a rock-solid banker.
Even if this year’s Vase does look a little better on paper than last year, Flintshire’s form is at least as strong, if not stronger, than it was 12 months ago and the Andre Fabre-trained entire this time arrives off a less taxing workload.
Flintshire won without really appearing to run up to his best rating in 2014, with perhaps the rigours of a long campaign beginning to tell.
This time, Fabre has skipped the Breeders’ Cup after a second straight runner-up finish in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, this time to Golden Horn, and the five-year-old looked in great order at trackwork yesterday.
Of the others, take Highland Reel (Ryan Moore), Cirrus Des Aigles (Olivier Peslier) and Dariyan (Christophe Soumillon).
If looking to include a local, 2013 race winner Dominant is the one, with Zac Purton back aboard and with the benefit of some impressive work during the week.
The middle leg is Longines Hong Kong Sprint, a race described during the week by Gold-Fun’s trainer Richard Gibson as the most draw-dependent of the four features.
Gibson’s in-form veteran Gold-Fun (Soumillon) came up with the type of gate, barrier six, that will allow his master jockey options in the critical run to the first turn.
Lean towards the locals here, with Lucky Nine (Brett Prebble) looking ready to run a big race and Peniaphobia (Moreira) in tremendous form, although drawn a nightmare gate.
Rich Tapestry (Berry) could run a cheeky race from a low draw and barrier two will allow Not Listenin’tome (Hugh Bowman) to be right in the mix.