There is a little bit more fanfare surrounding his 1010 Million Challenge hope this year, but trainer Dennis Yip Chor-hong just might be able to go back-to-back in the Happy Valley series with Ottimo. The winner of three races from four attempts over the Valley 1,650m as an immature three-year-old, Ottimo (Howard Cheng Yue-tin) made his four-year-old return a winning one as a warm favourite. Last season, Yip was able to surprise a few people by claiming the Happy Valley Million Challenge series - for Class Three horses and above between the beginning of the season this term and late February - with Loyal Army, who had no great reputation to start the season. Loyal Army claimed the prize, winning three Valley races during the period of the Challenge, but the key was his narrow winning margins, which saw him rise by only 22 points in the ratings from start to finish, and he stepped outside Class Three only to grab one second placing late in the piece. A progressive young horse like Ottimo is an ideal candidate for Yip to follow up with another victory in the series, but he might make the task harder for himself than did Loyal Army. Ottimo began the 5 1/2-month series yesterday off a rating of 68 and then made a mess of his rivals, winning with real authority by more than two lengths and he will have caught the handicapper's eye. Cheng said he was hoping Ottimo's physical progress during the summer would keep him ahead of Nigel Gray's panel. 'He has definitely improved this season, as you would expect,' Cheng said. 'He has strengthened with the extra time and also he has become a more tractable horse to ride than he was last season. His target is the Million Challenge and I think he should be able to win at least another two races, which would give him a good chance.' Cheng has kicked off the season as one of the front runners, Ottimo's victory taking him to six wins and equal third on the table.