A wide draw and lack of tactical speed are the aspects of Bamboo Dance's game that could bring his memorable winning run to an end in the Lok Sin Tong Cup (1,800m) at Sha Tin today where Eastern Express can establish his claims as a Derby contender.
David Hall-trained Bamboo Dance (Joao Moreira) has been one of the stories of the last eight months, stringing six wins on end together and rising from the depths of Class Five to Class Three this afternoon.
He remains one of the hardest to beat in today's race and, if he did take that streak to a remarkable seven, it would neither be begrudged nor a surprise, but he got away with a lack of tactical ability in Classes Four and Five due to good draws, a superior turn of foot or some Moreira magic at times. Today, we find out if that is enough in a pretty decent Class Three.
Waiting for him is a horse Moreira knows well, John Size-trained Eastern Express (Karis Teetan), looking to make up for two close placings lately and get back into the winner's circle.
Bred to stay, everything Eastern Express has been doing at shorter trips has been a bonus but he rises to a suitable distance for the first time and he has shown some tactical speed in the shorter races that will stand him in good stead here.
The race appears slowly run with Po Ching Treasure, Northern Falls and recent trial leader Giant Turtle possible front runners but none of them really in a hurry.
It won't surprise to see McQueen and Industrialist Way (Ryan Moore) in reasonable touch and Eastern Express can be in that group, finding his way into the first half of the field without having to be bustled to do it. That gives him a nice trip to the home turn to be one of those challenging at the 300m and he should relish the 1,800m and give us a guide as to whether he is going to make into a Derby horse in the next two months.
On the other hand, Bamboo Dance looks to have no other option but to go back, get in and Moreira will then look to steal some ground through runners approaching the turn to have the eight-year-old in striking range and he will take holding if he can be within three or lengths of the lead.
It isn't a two-horse race either, with Moore's mount Industrialist Way a very solid, genuine horse around this trip and he hasn't done a lot wrong lately. If Moore can wring an extra length or two from him, then the five-year-old will be right in the finish.