The classics are still a way off but trainers looking to qualify horses for them are hard at work racking up rating points and Redwood Baby will be out to do just that in the American Club Challenge Cup (1,800m) at Happy Valley tonight.
In recent weekend meetings we've seen a number of Class Three winners discussed as Hong Kong Derby aspirants, participants at the least, and getting their handicap ratings up to 90 or above is the first job for their trainers.
Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained Redwood Baby (Joao Moreira) has always looked a potential Derby runner since he commenced to race this time last year as a three-year-old, but it's getting to crunch time now.
If he's to make it into the field, he has to make an impact off only a 72 rating and tonight's race sets up nicely for the son of High Chaparral to show his worth.
He should find a spot midfield from barrier two, although he might not find the rail as Dalwari (Karis Teetan) may be seeking a similar position from the only gate inside him.
Pace can be some sort of query any time in these 1,800m races, as the good run from the starting point to the first turn doesn't inspire the same early bustle as the 1,650m races, but Dr Good Habit and Horse Aplenty will be pushing forward. The likes of Eton Blitz, Cartoon Fay Fay, Holmes Legend and Bullish Smart are all possibles to be looking for a handy position if not the actual lead.
An average tempo or better would suit Redwood Baby but he did show how adaptable he could be when he won a muddling-run race for Moreira over this course last season and his relatively light handicap of 120 pounds gives him some tactical leeway if the jockey needs to use him.
David Hall-trained Dalwari looks a danger, after the former French galloper improved in his first Class Three start to be an unlucky fourth last month.