A sharp ratings rise and the likelihood of a slow tempo shouldn't stop the former so-called "non-winner" Victory Magic running away with the Group Three Queen Mother Memorial Cup (2,400m) today.
Before a barnstorming Class Two triumph over 2,200m last start, Victory Magic was probably best known for running second in races - something he had achieved in eight of 14 lifetime starts.
Victory Magic was later granted one of those races when the horse first across the line was disqualified as part of Australia's long-running cobalt saga, but that didn't do anything to change the perception that the John Moore-trained import either lacked fight in a finish, or only had a short sprint - or both.
If Victory Magic's tough second to stablemate Werther in the BMW Hong Kong Derby hadn't started to change those perceptions already, then a dominant display over 2,200m earlier this month rendered them obsolete. The easy two and three-quarter length win also answered a couple of other queries: whether Victory Magic could be stretched beyond 2,000m and be effective, and how the horse would deal with coming from midfield or worse in a slowly run staying race.
Victory Magic had made little impression when 10th in the 2014 Victoria Derby over 2,500m, but the race came at the fifth start of the horse's first preparation and he was exposed very early in the long Flemington straight, so that could be forgiven.
Clearly Victory Magic is a stronger and more seasoned individual now but will have to face the same slow tempo from the front runners, this time lumping a big weight. Victory Magic jumps 10 points in the ratings and carries 130 pounds against six of the rivals he trounced last time out.
Four-year-olds have a reasonable record in the race, winning eight of the 21 times it has been run at 2,400m, but most got in better at the handicaps and Victory Magic will have to carry the biggest weight for the age group since Ho Ho hauled 134 pounds to victory in 1999.
Guessing who will lead might be as hard as picking the finishing order - last year's runner-up Renaissance Art (Keith Yeung Ming-lun) could end up there by default, which probably enhances his chances,and from low draws Basic Trilogy (Derek Leung Ka-chun) and Anticipation will probably be pushed to stay close.
Barrier four gives Zac Purton a chance to find a one-off spot from where he can keep tabs on the leaders and latch on to any mid-race moves if they come, something that seems more probable than not.
The sweeping early sprint from a long way out could be the tactic from Joao Moreira on Giovanni Canaletto - 2,200m wasn't even long enough to hide his lack of dash, and if it becomes a sit and sprint contest from the 400m he will be left spinning his wheels once again.
The placegetters behind Victory Magic last time, Ambitious Champion (Chad Schofield) and Basic Trilogy, will fancy their chances with favourable weight turnarounds to the likely favourite but they might simply be outclassed.