Tipping against Able Friend around these parts is borderline heresy, but here goes nothing – Japanese raider Logotype can again play giant-killer and upset the local hero in the Group One Longines Hong Kong Mile.
Able Friend (Joao Moreira) will undoubtedly take his place at the top of betting markets and there is even less doubt that a fully fit and healthy version of the seven-year-old could win with ease.
But John Moore’s giant chestnut has only raced once since last year’s race, where some of the first signs of a foot problem began to surface and another Japanese star, Maurice, silenced Sha Tin.
A solitary run over 1,200m, albeit a sound one running on for fourth in the Group Two Jockey Club Sprint, was encouraging, but second-up on a three-week back-up is hardly ideal after an already disjointed preparation.
First, there was an incident in quarantine after recuperating in Australia, and since then Moore will have taken a safety-first approach with the gelding, given there are two more Group One miles at Sha Tin this season.
Then there is the barrier draw – coming up with barrier 14 of 14 means Moreira already has his tactics spelled out for him, at least at the start, and Able Friend is likely to have to come from last.
It is tactics that will give Logotype the edge as well – barrier two means big race rider Mirco Demuro can have the six-year-old positioned perfectly.
When Logotype stunned Tokyo by beating Maurice in this year’s Yasuda Kinen, the determining factor was a soft lead, but it is unlikely Demuro will look to make the running here, but rather box seat.
It is another Japanese runner, Neorealism (Ryan Moore), that could lead although Noriyuki Hori’s flashy five-year-old is an unpredictable type and even with a master pilot aboard, the horse may end up where he wants.
Beauty Flame (Derek Leung Ka-chun) will go forward from gate 12 and ensure at least moderate speed – but if nobody else wants it, the tempo could slow, as it often does at Sha Tin.
A stop-start pace won’t help Able Friend’s cause, nor that of lead-up mile winner Beauty Only (Zac Purton), who might struggle to be much closer in the run from gate 13.
The third Japanese runner Satono Aladdin (Yuga Kawada) has looked strong in work this week but he too will need an even speed to show his best.
On the local front, Moore’s two other runners have claims, Helene Paragon (Hugh Bowman) was unlucky last start while Joyful Trinity (Gerald Mosse) could run a sneaky race from the tail.