The draw and abundant tactical speed look the key factors for Fantastic Eight at Happy Valley on Wednesday night when the Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained gelding tries to build on his handy record in the American Club Challenge Cup (1,200m).
Fantastic Eight (Umberto Rispoli) has not raced before at the Valley but he is a brilliant beginner and a tough competitor, both things that will win plenty of races around the tight-turning circuit.
In seven starts, Fantastic Eight has yet to finish out of the quinella – winning twice with five seconds – and this race sets up well for him to add a digit to the left side of that equation.
Two of his main rivals, Smart Boy (Chad Schofield) and Fairy Twins (Nash Rawiller) have drawn awkward, wide barriers, with enough pace underneath them to make rolling the dice and pressing forward problematical, so they will probably give him a start.
And two of his other main rivals, local debutant New Elegance (Neil Callan) and Sam’s Love (Joao Moreira), are both having their first race for a while and are giving away a fitness edge.
So, Fantastic Eight has an advantage on most, with his sharp early speed meaning he can either go to the front, or sit outside King Mortar if that horse decides to lead, and then bide his time before giving a strong kick into the straight.
As his record shows, he has often found one too good but several of those defeats have been in photos and Fantastic Eight is no pushover to get past.
The draw does make things tricky for Smart Boy, as he would have been first choice from a good gate after looking unlucky behind Who Else But You last time.
That was from a good draw but he was unable to get clear room to work into the race when needed, this time his problem is drawing out but he remains a serious threat if Schofield can work some magic.