TRAINER Ivan Allan has begun to flex his muscles as he prepares to do battle for this year's championship - a title race expected to be hotter than ever before. The former multiple champion trainer of Malaysia and Singapore has a stable full of handy horses - many of which he astutely acquired himself - and a definite desire to be the top dog in Hong Kong officially. And that means the championship. He showed afresh on Wednesday that he was going to take a lot of beating this campaign with a handy double, plus a second placing in the final event. That came from old-stager Illico, who had clearly benefited from Allan's handling. And another of his runners, Ka Fook, finished third, making it a profitable night's plundering from Allan. Apart from his proven ability, the biggest card Allan will be able to play involves his young horses. He gathered in a clutch of exciting griffins last season, some of whom have blossomed and others who will be coming strongly on line this season. It is a fairly awesome array of equine talent and there is every indication that more are on the way - a result of Allan's purchases at recent sales overseas. One of the most exciting youngsters Allan produced last season was Explorer, who is topweight for the Chinese Recreation Club Cup at Sha Tin today. Explorer exploded on to the scene last campaign at big odds when ridden by Frankie F. C. Lor and then won a couple of end for champion jockey Basil Marcus. Allan is nothing if not fair to those who work for him and he presented the unfashionable Lor with a grand chance to win with Explorer at his first start of the season. That was over the longer sprint at Happy Valley and Lor not only seized the chance, but also looked very professional in getting Explorer safely home. That the horse has come on from that run hardly requires stating and he is going to be right on his toes for today's trophy-hunting mission. He is re-united with Marcus as Explorer bids for a fourth straight success - and that is a rarity in Hong Kong racing. Explorer is better than Class Three on what has been seen of him so far, but he has certainly struck a competitive Cup event here. There are a number of chances and Explorer, despite his excellent record, may well jump at backable odds. He is burdened with 136 lb, but that will not stop the Best Western three-year-old, who did amazingly well to lump even more than that to success last season when still a two-year-old. Explorer must still be maturing and really exciting days could lie ahead for the galloper, who has certainly captured public attention. The gloss went off another top griffin of last season, Flirting Dancer, when he failed in the Happy Valley Vase towards the back end of last season. He was odds-on to win the 1,650-metre event, but could only finish 33/4 lengths adrift of Wonderful Moment, trained by Allan. French trainer Patrick Biancone, who has had a much quieter start to the present season than in other campaigns, has engaged international ace Mick Kinane for the ride. Flirting Dancer appears to have summered well, but faces a fairly strenuous re-introduction to the game this season. One who has really been catching the eye in the mornings is the Wong Tang-ping-trained New Zealand galloper Amazing Grace. The six-year-old has been essentially disappointing over the past couple of seasons, but is probably at a mark where he could do something. On the score of fitness, he should be able to shape up at his first start of the season. Leading trainer Lawrie Fownes has his team in great shape and there will be confidence about the chances of another exciting youngster in Super Bingo II. Super Bingo II won his seasonal opener in highly impressive style, giving nothing else a chance over 1,400 metres at Sha Tin. That has now seen him elevated to Class Three, but the manner in which he carved out victory last time suggests that he has really matured over the summer into a galloper of considerable potential.