The addition of blinkers could help spark the Michael Freedman-trained Famous Warrior to a breakthrough victory at Sha Tin on Saturday.
The gelding has had four starts since arriving in Hong Kong – three of them have been really good – and now he gets his opportunity to notch his first local win in the Class Three Cotai Handicap (1,600m).
The form guide says Famous Warrior, who took out four races when he raced as Sneaky Glance in Australia, was beaten by four lengths last start, but don’t be fooled, it was a terrific run.
After getting well back early, Zac Purton railed up on the turn to give himself a chance, but the early leader Land Grant was off and gone, cruising away to a comfortable win.
But Famous Warrior was the best of the rest and the only back-marker to make ground, with the first four in transit finishing first, third, fourth and fifth.
The blinkers should help sharpen the four-year-old up and he will be at full fitness for his second run at the mile.
Purton, who also rode Go Beauty Go (Matthew Poon Ming-fai) last start, is sticking with Famous Warrior and should give him every opportunity to get over the hump from barrier seven.
The biggest danger looks to be Almond Lee’s Namjong Plus (Karis Teetan), who makes the step up to Class Three after winning two of his first five starts and has drawn well in barrier three.
Another horse who has been knocking on the door is Francis Lui Kin-wai’s Sunny Power, who contests the Class Four Sai Van Bridge Handicap (1,400m).
The four-year-old first caught the eye when a 100-1 chance on debut in January, flashing home for a fourth to Lean Perfection after settling at the back of the field.
He has followed a similar pattern in his two efforts since, coming third to the talented Raging Storm in March and then finishing a half-length behind Great Treasure last month.
Sunny Power’s last run was his most impressive when he was able to settle a little further forward before letting down in the straight and points to the improvement he continues to make.
If he has taken another step forward, Vincent Ho Chak-yiu might be able to find a nice spot midfield from barrier eight before swinging out to the middle of the track and letting down with his strong finishing burst.
His two main threats are Manful Star (Neil Callan) and Yee Cheong Pegasus (Purton), another lightly raced runner.
Manful Star, from the Ricky Yiu Poon-fai stable, showed some ability earlier this season, winning in October before being narrowly beaten when well supported in his following three races.
He hasn’t been seen since December, but has impressed in two trials so it wouldn’t surprise to see the six-year-old in the finish.
Like Sunny Power, the David Hall-trained Yee Cheong Pegasus also showed improvement last start, finishing a nose second to Viva Council over this course and distance and he can continue his upwards trend.
In a similar vein, Paul O’Sullivan’s team has been in good form recently and can keep it going with Sonic Fighter (Derek Leung Ka-chun) in the Class Three Coloane Handicap (1,400m).
The four-year-old probably should have won last start, held up at a crucial moment when finishing a half-length behind Go Public.
Sonic Fighter has won two of his past four starts and can add another victory to his résumé if he can overcome barrier 12.