John Size is always careful about throwing three-year-olds in the deep end but the master trainer looks to have found the right race for unbeaten rising star Nothingilikemore on Sunday at Sha Tin.
Nothingilikemore jumped a massive 37 points after three sensational starts and reached the middle of Class Two by the midpoint of his first season of racing.
Size has understandably slowed things down a touch for Nothingilikemore (Joao Moreira), sending the youngster back to the trials twice since the dominant Class Two win on March 12.
Nothingilikemore now contests The Power of Music Handicap, a 1,400m Class Two for horses rated between 70 and 90.
That means Nothingilikemore carries second top weight of 132 pounds and has to give weight to all but one of his older rivals, which can be a concern for younger horses.
Still, it’s hard to find a chink in Nothingilikemore’s armour, with the son of Husson dominant at every start and showing a rare tactical versatility that should stand the gelding in good stead when he eventually makes his way into harder races.
That might not be too far away either, with Nothingilikemore likely to be sent around short-priced favourite again against a field containing little in the way of progressive individuals.
The Caspar Fownes-trained four-year-old Big Flash (Olivier Doleuze) and Paul O’Sullivan’s consistent type Jolly Jolly (Sam Clipperton) look the obvious dangers but both drew wide in 13 and 14 respectively.
Nothingilikemore’s Class Two is one of only two races around the turn on turf, along with a fascinating Class One Hong Kong Jockey Club Community Trophy.
Limitless (Umberto Rispoli) was among entries for the Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize (May 7) and will get a warm up here over 1,400m against a quality field.
Yet another young Size-trained talent, Western Express (Moreira) is likely to jump favourite, but will be giving 12 pounds to Limitless and 13 to the Tony Cruz-trained four-year-old California Whip (Matthew Chadwick).
Outside of those two standout races, punters will be left to sort through six races on the dirt and another two up the tricky straight course.
In the Empowering Youth Handicap up the straight, Tony Millard’s sprinter Strathclyde (Clipperton) will look to go back-to-back.
Strathclyde was gelded in the off-season and with the change, he is a completely different conveyance this term.
Dirt-specialist Vanilla (Zac Purton) has had a fascinating, yo-yo-like season, winning off a mark of 64 in October, before working his way back down to Class Four and storming away to score by an astonishing 10 lengths over 1,800m in January.
The seven-year-old took the resultant 14 point ratings hike in his stride when he won in Class Three over 1,650m and now steps up to 1,800m, where he is more effective, in another top heavy Class Three.
California Joy (Chadwick) might be the one to be on here though as Cruz brings the four-year-old to the dirt for the first time.
A winner of four from 16, and with form around some decent horses, California Joy might yet have a third win for the term left in him.
A liking for Happy Valley should correlate with an affinity for the all-weather track and the son of Fastnet Rock’s recent trials on the surface have been good.