A lift to the top of the weights means the job won’t be straightforward for Divine Boy at Happy Valley on Wednesday night but he still looks the one to beat again in the Japan Racing Association Trophy (1,200 metres).
Me Tsui Yu-sak-trained Divine Boy (Joao Moreira) arrived from Australia with a good reputation as a three-year-old, and took a year before he started to justify that, but he now seeks a fourth straight victory over the course and distance.
He is also looking for the lead in the Happy Valley Million Challenge – 12 points for a win would push him eight clear of series leader Speedy Longwah, whose future is unclear, and even second would get Divine Boy the yellow saddlecloth with a month of the competition left.
The key to Divine Boy seems to have been maturity and hooking up with Moreira, and he has looked well above average ridden cold at the rear then unleashing his big finish.
There looks to be speed on again on Wednesday night, with You Read My Mind (Derek Leung Ka-chun), Startling Power (Howard Cheng Yue-tin) and Peace N Prosperity (Silvestre de Sousa) all forward running horses.
The enigmatic nine-year-old Happy Yeah Yeah (Keith Yeung Ming-lun) also has a role to play in the pace, one way or the other, depending on whether he decides to begin with the field or not.
If he does jump, even from gate one he probably isn’t fast enough to hold out You Read My Mind, but he could make those other quick ones work a little more.
In any case, it looks well run which will suit Divine Boy but the handicap system ensures that life isn’t getting any easier.
He has risen 29 points in three runs which means big weight turnarounds against other horses are starting to build and General Iron (Alex Lai Hoi-wing) presents just such a case as his main danger.
In October, General Iron had gate 11 and finished a three-length third behind Divine Boy and now meets the winner a whopping 22 pounds better, as well as coming into gate five where he should get an ideal trip.