Ahead of today's announcement of the invited runners for the Hong Kong International Races next month, we have to ask if the switch of the local lead-up races to terms events did its job and what impact they will have on the local representatives. Over the past two weekends, trial races have been run at 1,000 metres, 1,600m and 2,000m under terms rather than handicap conditions, with the intention to remove or at least soften doubts about potential improvers going into the HKIR - horses who could not expect to be chosen on the basis of their handicap ratings only. The Sprint Trial certainly offered a different team than the ratings would have done and looks the most interesting as well as the race where Hong Kong might expect to be very competitive. Three horses running well outside their handicaps - Cape Of Good Hope, Anabatik and Thunder - all made a case for being included in the field for the Hong Kong Sprint when they finished so close to All Thrills Too at level terms on Sunday, while the likes of Charming City and Firebolt were well in at the weights and did not flatter. When this scenario occurred under handicap conditions with All Thrills Too last season, there were still arguments to say he should not be elevated to the race because he had such a weight pull in the lead-up, but especially the case of improving Cape Of Good Hope must be a powerful one for inclusion this year after his effort. Ivan Allan's Firebolt is probably entitled to another chance, though he may have disappointed his fans on the weekend. To eliminate him on the basis of one moderate run would be as flawed as exclusion on the basis of rating alone, and would not allow trainers to time a proven horse's preparation for international day as Allan has intended with this sprinter. So that takes three of the six local spots, with the others to be decided between Charming City, Fairy King Prawn, Anabatik, Thunder and some of the well-beaten horses from the Trial. Most interesting will be whether the Jockey Club is prepared to back Allan's expertise with 1999 Hong Kong Sprint winner Fairy King Prawn - a horse who has the ability to be competitive as against more sound horses who may have only the ability to run in the race. In the Mile and the two distance events, the lead-ups did not really throw forward any newcomers, though the place of Super Molly was probably confirmed on Sunday. Red Pepper and Dr More were probably assured Cup runners even before they ran the quinella in the International Cup Trial, as is Cheers Hong Kong if this race is his aim. Then it gets more difficult depending on the preferences of horses like Red Sun, as the high-rated entries fall away and the next in line become Precision and Housemaster with ratings of 106 and 105 respectively. On results and ratings, Electronic Unicorn will lead the Mile team with Sunday's curious absentee from the Chevalier Cup, Jeune King Prawn. Super Molly and Olympic Express demand their selection with the remaining two spots to be fought over by Grand Delight, Meridian Star, Red Sun and others. With a total local entry of 11 and a number not interested in running, selections for the Hong Kong Vase have a time-honoured look about them, with Indigenous and Helene Vitality topping the list and Idol leading the remainder unless Cheers Hong Kong is preferred for this race over the Cup.