On the corresponding raceday 12 months ago, Dundonnell went around at triple figure odds and finished unplaced in the Hong Kong Classic Mile, another victim of the rush job trainers can be forced into at this time of year with four-year-olds.

Since then, Dundonnell hasn't raced beyond the 1,400m of today's Hau Wong Handicap and has rarely put a foot wrong in 10 starts, finishing unplaced just once, when he was again thrown in the deep end of a level weights Group One.

Today the remarkably consistent five-year-old's tactical versatility can help him overcome top weight in a typically tricky contest a small field can create and put himself in the equation for the Group races in the latter part of the term.

Dundonnell, who mixed it with some of the best in his age group in England and won the Listed King Charles II Stakes as a three-year-old, ensured his first three local starts would soon stick out like a sore thumb on his otherwise impressive, but not dominant, record of two wins and seven placings from 13 starts.

An off-season transfer to Richard Gibson hasn't stopped his momentum, with three consecutive top three finishes, followed by a convincing win on international day. The third placegetter from that race, Rewarding Hero, gave the form a boost with a follow-up win on New Year's Day.

Gibson has endeavoured to keep Dundonnell fresh and again comes into this race with more than a month since his last run, a smart barrier trial win just under two weeks ago keeping him up to the mark.

The 110-90 ratings band means Dundonnell sits at the top of the scale as level topweight but the race seems like an ideal stepping stone to the late season sprint races where he will get in better at the handicaps.

It would seem like John Moore's Kabayan - to be ridden by Neil Callan for the first time today - is more effective over a mile, but he did beat Dundonnell first-up over the course and distance early in the season, and actually meets the topweight better at the weights for that run.

The question for Kabayan is whether he can produce the same dash coming back in trip mid-season, and whether the backmarker gets any sort of tempo to help his run-on style. Same goes for Kabayan's stablemate What You Dream (Derek Leung Ka-chun), on a rapid ascent through the handicaps this season and carrying 116 pounds - he also comes from the back and with all of his wins over a mile, he might find this a little sharp.

There are similar tempo-related concerns for Dennis Yip Chor-hong's injury-plagued eight-year-old Gurus Dream (Gerald Mosse), who seems to be hitting form and should be working into it late, but has never been placed anywhere near the speed over this trip.

Of course when a lack of speed looks obvious, it can create the exact opposite scenario - a mad rush to lead. That doesn't look likely with a small field of fully exposed types.

The two obvious ones to settle down in front are John Size-trained Wonderful Moments (Karis Teetan), rolled when fancied at his only two starts when trying to lead in similar company, and Moore's third runner Secret Sham.

Wonderful Moments will get his chance again, and may get an easier time than he has had, especially from gate one.

With a new jockey aboard Secret Sham, Nash Rawiller - who loves these types of tactical battles - expect him to be put right up in the race and give a great show, even with 133 pounds and after a slight setback.

Size's other runner Tour De Force (Joao Moreira) shouldn't be discounted, even though it is starting to look as though his best is at Happy Valley and over shorter journeys. Still, he was finding the line well over this trip on January 1, and should get a nice trailing run.