There aren’t really many ways to slice Sunday’s Hong Kong Classic Mile at Sha Tin and not find Rapper Dragon as the most likely victor.
Rapper Dragon (Joao Moreira) heads up a remarkable John Moore entry where he will provide the main danger as well in Beauty Generation (Zac Purton) and a knockout chance of some interest in Eagle Way (Tommy Berry) among his seven representatives.
With a handicap rating 14 points higher than his nearest rival Beauty Generation, rated 100, Rapper Dragon stands out in that regard and is already a four-time winner at Sha Tin including two over this distance.
There was a question mark over his fitness when he resumed in a competitive Class One on international day after he had suffered a training setback, but his effort there under top weight was very sound and there should be no question about his fitness now.
Even the manner of the race might play in Rapper Dragon’s favour as even Moore pointed to his tactical abilities as a possible Achilles’ Heel to the favourite.
If this was a truly run affair, we might see him having to stand Beauty Generation a bit of a start but this is a contest in search of tempo, the field more likely to race in a huddled group for most of the event.
The Tony Cruz-trained Circuit Hassler was a go-forward horse in New Zealand and attempted the same over 1,600m first-up in Class One when he was caught wide but couldn’t get there and then did find the lead early second-up over 1,800m before caving in quickly at the top of the straight.
So he is a potential leader here, if not a potential threat, from gate 13 and so is his stablemate Winner’s Way, who is drawn immediately under him.
But how fast either of them would go is the question.
And even that plays in favour of Rapper Dragon, who would be closer in a soft tempo and has dealt effectively with a similar pace scenario last season and won.
Beauty Generation is the danger, his little setback since his win suggesting he might still have improvement ahead after this, and Pakistan Star (Silvestre de Sousa) is the other serious player if his rider can find him some clear room.
Eagle Way is considered a lesser light but looks an interesting runner after winning a very slowly run race on international day at this trip.
He produced a big sprint at the finish – he was in the top 13 last 400m sections of a day featuring so many outstanding horses – and can be in the finish if this is run in similar fashion.