John Moore’s Sea Jade can cap an outstanding three-year-old campaign and bounce back into form in a competitive Class Two sprint at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
Sea Jade (Sam Clipperton) has already won five races this term, including four at the Valley, and was second to rising star Pakistan Star when stretched to 1,400m in the Griffin Trophy at Sha Tin.
Sea Jade thrives at the city course though, with its tight turns and short straight, and was unbeaten there before finishing last of 12 six weeks ago.
That unplaced run over 1,200m came with plenty of excuses though and it might just pay to not only forgive, but completely forget that Sea Jade went around.
Sent out 5.2 second favourite with top weight of 133 pounds, Moreira quickly found himself in an awkward spot after jumping, travelling four-wide around the first bend and then stuck in a eye-ball to eyeball battle with fellow three-year-old speedster Premiere.
Sea Jade faded when asked for efforts – as did Premiere – and to make matters worse Moore’s horse scoped with a substantial amount of blood in his trachea when examined by Jockey Club vets post race.
With six weeks between races, Sea Jade returns to his favourite course and distance after a solid trial with a perfect barrier and a gear change.
Sea Jade has drawn gate three so shouldn’t get into the same predicament as last start, with a strong possibility that an ideal box-seat run presents on the C course.
Clipperton may be tempted to make a play for the front, but with 10-pound claimer Dylan Mo Hin-tung aboard Charity Joy to his inside in gate two, he should be able to slot in beside, or behind, the likely leader.
Premiere (Moreira) has drawn four and will obviously be close as well in a race containing some speed but not many outright leaders.
Moore has also put sheepskin cheekpieces back on Sea Jade, which the gelding wore in his first three starts this season and that could provide something of a late season spark as well.
Another plus for Sea Jade is that a couple of his top rivals have drawn awkwardly, with the horse that beat him swooping off the hot pace last start, Jetwings (Douglas Whyte), again drawn 12 of 12.
Jetwings’ ratings at his last two starts indicate he is getting back to the type of form that made him a three-year-old rising star, before a tendon injury sidelined the strapping sprinter through all of 2016.
Expect a big effort again from Richard Gibson’s comeback horse, but hoping for the same type of scenario as last time, when a cutthroat speed laid the race on for the back-marker, would be fanciful.
Flying Tourbillion (Derek Leung Ka-chun) comes back to the Valley for the first time since a narrow defeat to Hella Hedge back in February but he too was dealt a dud hand at the draw with gate 10.
An intriguing prospect to watch first up will be the Tony Cruz-trained three-year-old import The Golden Age (Matthew Chadwick).
A first-up win off a mark of 88 might be a bit much to ask but the colt is a Group Three winner on ground rated good in France and his last trial, one of three at the smaller track, indicate the chestnut is quite forward.
In the Class Three Daegu Handicap (1,200m), three-year-old Empire Star (Moreira) is another top chance drawn a difficult gate, with Me Tsui Yu-sak’s second-starter set to jump from 10.
Last start, Empire Star flew home for a narrow second to Nashashuk and six weeks later returns to the same course and distance.
A recent barrier trial showed Empire Star still has plenty more to learn and spotting the leaders a big break here with the rail out will be a good test of the young horse’s mettle.