Sunday’s 10-race card looks likely to be bookended by short-priced favourites ridden by Zac Purton with Hot King Prawn kicking things off in the opener and exciting prospect Little Giant closing the day in Class Two.
Hot King Prawn was a soft winner as 1.4 top pick in a 1,000m griffin race last month and returns a little over a month later to a task that doesn’t look anymore difficult.
The John Size-trained two-year-old faces just six overmatched rivals, including three the grey flash has already thrashed, and two first starters that don’t look up to the challenge either.
Of course, Hot King Prawn will need to carry more weight, lumping 127 pounds, seven more than last time, but it’s hardly the kind of impost that looks likely to stop what could be one of the most facile wins of the season.
Hot King Prawn should be much better for the last start success, in which he was given a little shake up late, but didn’t seem close to being fully extended.
He had just two local trials heading into his debut, the second of them showing him to be a little on the soft side fitness-wise.
Natural improvement would be expected anyway, but since the first-up win Hot King Prawn put in a nice 1,050m trial behind stablemate Premiere to keep things ticking over.
Also encouraging is the subsequent performance of the horse went eyeball to eyeball with, and then booted clear of, Lucky Master.
Lucky Master stepped up to 1,200m three weeks later and franked the form in emphatic fashion, dominating his griffin opposition to win by four lengths as 1.1 favourite.
Given Hot King Prawn had more than two lengths to spare on his hard-ridden rival last time, and there was nearly four lengths to the first griffin winner of the season, Amusing City, it augurs well for a similar romp in the Beijing Clubhouse Plate.
As far as romps go, they don’t get much more stylish than Little Giant’s Class Three track gallop early last month.
Purton had the handbrake applied until late before a quick burst of acceleration put rivals away over 1,200m.
Of course, the David Hall-trained gelding had already come to the attention of keen judges before that first-up display, not so much in trackwork on trials, but because of the form that stacked up all around the sprinter’s performances in New Zealand.
In January last year, Little Giant, then known as Blackcrown, beat Humidor when the horses both made their debut at Tauhermikau, near Wellington.
Little Giant put close to two lengths on Humidor with eight lengths to the third horse, but it wasn’t until more than a year later that the form fully revealed itself.
Humidor won the Group One Australian Cup in March, beating Jameka, before finishing runner-up to the same horse in the Group One BMW.
Little Giant received a hefty 11-point hike in the handicaps for the first-up win, the type of rise that has brought horses undone in the past.
Not only does it help that Little Giant lands in Class Two with a low draw on the minefield that is the C+3 course, but even the weight structure of the race worked in Hall’s horses favour.
With top weight Sea Jade rated 96 in the Racing Club Handicap (1,200m), it means the 85-rated Little Giant will be allotted 122 pounds and Purton doesn’t have to claim over, which he would have if the horse was carrying 118.