INTERNATIONAL Cup hero State Taj is not yet the force he was last year but his astute Melbourne trainer James Riley is hoping it will all come together on the day. Last season State Taj travelled badly but perked up dramatically in the 24 hours leading into the showpiece 1,800-metre event in which he then went out and led his rivals a merry dance under a brilliant ride from Damien Oliver to get the money at the wonder odds of 30-1. 'He was around 7-1 at home which was a much truer reflection of his chances,' Riley recalled with a wry smile at Sha Tin yesterday morning. There are no worries about the way State Taj has handled the trip this time round but Riley is candid enough to admit: 'I haven't been able to get him to the same level as he was last season. 'His last run was disappointing. We've got to admit that but I have set him for this race and this race only and he'd been doing all his work what we call the Sydney way round. 'That may explain his run in the Nissan [Stakes] and it is possible that he will come right on the day. That is what we're all hoping.' State Taj is available at 12-1 with London bookmakers Ladbrokes for a repeat success in the $5.5 million contest which will also be bet on in Australia, Canada, Macau, Malaysia and Singapore, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States. The American challengers, the massive sprinting type Finder's Fortune who runs in the Bowl and the athletic Ventiquattrofogli who runs in the Cup, were definitely the pick on looks yesterday which was just a light morning for the International horses. Californian trainer Wally Dollase has been here twice before, he all but won the Cup with the luckless Charmonieur and then his Journalism was hampered out of the Bowl by a poorly ridden Japanese runner. Dollase couldn't be happier with his much-travelled Ventiquattrofogli who has already raced in England, Ireland, France, Italy, Germany and the United States, having formerly been trained by champion British handler John Dunlop before being bought privately by Dollase. 'We haven't had a winter in California. It's been 70 to 80 degrees virtually every day, no rain and look at him, he's as sleek as a seal,' Dollase said. Dollase is also happy with the prospect of fast ground at Sha Tin on Sunday. 'He really loves the tight turf,' he added. Ventriquattrofogli was first reserve for the Breeders' Cup so his form chances are there for all to see and he comes here off a light preparation. 'He's only had three runs this preparation and you can forget his last run as the ground was far too soft for him. He hated it. He has handled the journey real well. He's a professional. Smart as a whip,' said an upbeat Dollase about his 20-1 chance with Ladbrokes. The useful Californian state rider, Paul Atkinson, will be on both the American horses as most of the top American riders are staying at home for a US$500,000 event on the same day as the International events. 'I couldn't get Corey [Nakatani] to come because of the big race at home and he's my son-in-law,' laughed Dollase. The trip hasn't harmed Finder's Fortune one little bit, either. He was ridden out yesterday by assistant trainer Tim Pinfield under the watchful eye of his groom Jeff Gomez. 'We've had no problems and he's really going to like the right-handed 1,400 metres,' said Gomez. 'He's won five out of six when going that way on the grass at home.' Finder's Fortune is 12-1 in the early London market for the Bowl. But the New Zealand runner in the Bowl, Matsqui, had a bad flight over. 'He has been trained with the Bowl in mind so it was disappointing to hear about his bad flight. He was not at all happy on the way over and that is not what we wanted,' said Lance O'Sullivan who will ride Matsqui for his father and brother Dave and Paul O'Sullivan who jointly hold the training licence.