Japanese speedster Red Falx is out to redeem himself after a disappointing performance in the Hong Kong Sprint when he steps out in Sunday’s Grade One Takamatsunomiya Kinen at Chukyo.

Red Falx struggled into 12th in December’s Sha Tin feature but has been freshened up this assignment, coming into the race as the highest-rated of the 18 runners in what looks a wide open contest.

With last year’s winner Big Arthur and the talented Dance Director both missing the race through injury, on top of the fact there are no international horses having a crack at the third leg of the Global Sprint Challenge, it leaves the race with no standout.

Red Falx showed his credentials by winning the Grade One Sprinters Stakes last year and trainer Tomohito Ozeki is confident the grey can put his best foot forward.

“I thought he would give us a solid run in the Hong Kong Sprint, but he mustn’t have been fully recovered from the Sprinters Stakes,” Ozeki said.

“Since then, we haven’t overworked him and we’re going straight in to this race. On March 16, I gave him a long workout and his movement was good. He’s had a nice bit of time off and his recovery has gone well. He is very well suited to Chukyo and I’m looking forward to the race.”

Red Falx should have every chance to bounce back jumping from barrier seven with star jockey Mirco Demuro retaining the ride.

In-form mare Melagrana is another of the main hopes, having won four of her past five starts, including the Grade Three Yukan Fuji Sho Ocean Stakes last time out at Nakayama.

“Riding her again after three months, I feel she has matured even more from her previous race,” jockey Keita Tosaki said. “She’s a clever horse and I think she can handle any kind of race.”

The four-year-old Shuji came fourth in the Sprinters Stakes last year and was set to step into the upper echelon when he captured the Grade Two Hanshin Cup in December, but he flopped as favourite in the Grade Three Hankyu Hai last start and is trying to bounce back.

“He was agitated for the Hankyu Hai after a layoff, and he was pressured on his outside and tense during the race,” trainer Naosuke Sugai said.

“But that should have given him a chance to let off steam and we’ve taken care to watch his mental state since then. He had poor results in the (Chunichi Sports Sho) Falcon Stakes at Chukyo last year but that was over 1,400m and on a sloppy surface. He has a fourth place in the Sprinters and ample ability.”

The Takamatsunomiya Kinen is being simulcast by the Jockey Club with the race to be run at 2.40pm.