Better race position, a touch more luck in running and a considerable weight swing on a key rival should be enough for See Me Now to hit back with a win in the Class Four Mount Butler Handicap (1,650m).
After a season of acclimatisation and a drop into Class Four, See Me Now found his forte over Happy Valley’s extended mile and trainer Francis Lui Kin-wai keeps returning to the well.
See Me Now has tackled the course and distance five straight times now for a win and three placings and has only missed a top-four spot twice in seven total tries.
Last time out, barrier 10 meant Joao Moreira snagged back at the start and went hunting for an one off spot, which he was able to do.
The trouble was he was much further back on a horse that had box-seated from gate two when he won his previous start.
Then as the race began to unfold, See Me Now was last and going nowhere as the back-markers were making their way forward.
In fact with 400m to go, See Me Now was back on his heels with no momentum as Moreira was forced to go outside all but one of his rivals.
All the while Planet Star was rolling along on the speed and despite See Me Now reeling off the fastest final 400m sectional of the race, he was only able to close within one-and-a-quarter lengths.
See Me Now and Planet Star clash again three weeks later with Lui’s miler the beneficiary of a seven-pound weight swing.
Planet Star went up five points for his second win in three starts and Tommy Berry replaces Derek Leung Ka-chun, who was claiming two pounds.
The more important factor will be race position; last time Moreira was forced into trying something different from gate 10 and it didn’t work.
In a race with only moderate speed, Moreira should be able to take a spot midfield or better and that will make the difference.
The horse See Me Now beat home two starts back, Great Joy, contests the other section of the Mount Butler Handicap but a similar scenario looms to what transpired in his narrow last start defeat.
As a back-marker, Great Joy ended up in the rear third of the field on March 14 and had he been given the opportunity to get going earlier he may have been able to run down Multigogo.
Slow sectionals up front certainly didn’t help Great Joy’s cause either, with Multigogo getting a chance to dawdle down the back straight and to the turn.
Drawn two again, it remains to be seen what else Matthew Poon Ming-fai can do other than hope for more tempo, with on-pace runners Po Ching Treasure (Douglas Whyte) and Grand Harbour (Eddy Lai Wai-ming) offering some chance of a more solid clip.
That duo is likely to surge across from wide gates looking for the rail and it will only take a couple of others to be interested in forward spots to create some much-need pressure up front for David Hall’s six-year-old.
The eight-race card sees Valley specialist Moment Of Power drawn a better barrier and in with a great chance of adding to a solid course and distance record.
All four of Moment Of Power’s victories have come over the Valley’s shortest journey and the in-form five-year-old jumps from barrier three in the Class Three Nam Long Shan Handicap (1,000m)
Moment Of Power (Jack Wong Ho-nam) has placed in six of eight starts at the trip but a low draw enhances the speedy type’s chances further, with three of those four career wins coming from barrier four or lower.