An Australian sojourn did not reap the results trainer John Moore wanted for Dominant, but he believes the Group One-winning stayer has returned from his midseason campaign "mentally refreshed" for the Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Moore goes into the Group One staying feature with his usual strong hand, his four runners making up half the field. While last-start winner Helene Happy Star will be strongly supported and has attracted the services of leading jockey Joao Moreira, the trainer made a strong case for Dominant in the mile and-a-half event.
"I think the time he spent down in Australia has done him the world of good and I am very confident he will run well. I wouldn't be discounting him," Moore said of his seven-year-old, who has not won since the 2013 Hong Kong Vase, and was unplaced in two runs during the Sydney autumn carnival.
"I wasn't completely dissatisfied with his runs in Australia. Things never went right for him in the Sydney Cup over two miles, but now he comes back home looking a picture of health," said Moore.
The trainer has enlisted visiting jockey Tommy Berry to ride Dominant, who was an ineffective seventh in this race last year and third as favourite in both 2012 and 2013.
On Tuesday, Dominant galloped strongly with stablemate Same World, a rival on Sunday, and it was enough for Moore to declare last season's champion stayer was back near his best.
"Dominant really got the better of him in that work, and he's looking as good as ever," he said.
"The horse had some sun on his back down in Sydney, he has been picking at some grass and he was working on Canterbury racetrack, one of the best course propers in Australia. He is in a lot better shape than he was last year coming into this race at the end of a long season at home."
Helene Happy Star comes off his breakthrough win in the Queen Mother Memorial Cup, with another Group Three winner Harbour Master making up the quartet looking to give Moore a sixth win in the race.
"Now that we have got Helene Happy Star travelling more kindly in his races he is showing the sort of form we thought he would when we purchased him," he said.
"That's been half the battle with him, getting him to settle, and he has come on well from that last run."
In the Group Three Sha Tin Vase, Moore said Not Listenin'tome was ready to recapture the form that made him one of Australia's best three-year-old sprinters.
"This looks like the perfect race for him," said Moore, who also has Charles The Great, Frederick Engels and Exciting Dream entered in the wide open handicap.
"Not Listenin'tome is a fit horse, perfectly weighted, has drawn gate two and we've got the Magic Man [Joao Moreira] in the saddle. We were thinking of Royal Ascot with him, but we have decided to focus on December's Hong Kong Sprint instead and at his best he is up to it."
Moreira was named without standby riders at declaration time on Thursday after missing seven of the eight races on Wednesday night after suffering a back injury in the first race - a race the Brazilian won on Moore-trained Sure Peace.
"I'll be 100 per cent on Sunday," Moreira said. "The horse just didn't jump properly and I hurt my back, but it isn't serious."