A step up in trip and switch to the more spacious confines of Sha Tin should help former Godolphin galloper Amazing break through for a first local win on Saturday in the Class Three Sporting Exchange Handicap (1,400m).
The Francis Lui Kin-wai-trained three-year-old has been close at his last two starts and solid in four overall at Happy Valley, but Sha Tin’s A + 3 course will suit him better and a low draw will also make jockey Neil Callan’s task easier.
It took a step up to 1,300m and then 1,500m for Amazing to notch his two Australian wins and after four starts over the hustle and bustle of 1,200m at the Valley, the time is right for the move to 1,400m.
After being taken back from wide gates and then working home well at his first two starts, Amazing has drawn low at his last two and pressed to maintain a prominent position.
Being pushed and shoved to hold a spot probably took the edge off his turn of foot and cost the gelding on both occasion, but the tempo of a 1,400m race should be far more suitable.
From barrier three, Amazing will be able to find a close spot naturally and follow what should be a solid enough tempo, the longer straight at Sha Tin giving the youngster more time to straighten up and shift through his gears.
Two of Amazing’s biggest dangers, Sam’s Love (Joao Moreira) and Care Free Prince (Jack Wong Ho-nam) have drawn wide and will almost certainly go forward, while Cheerful Boy (Dylan Mo Hin-tung) is the likely pacesetter from barrier eight.
Amazing’s sire Medaglia d’Oro has done a great job from relatively limited opportunities, with his other five offspring in training at Sha Tin winning at least once this season.
Medaglia d’Oro’s most recent winner was last Sunday when Intrepic broke through over 1,200m. The American-bred stallion’s other winners have been Classic Emperor (two wins this season), Turin Pearl (two), Easy Hedge (one) plus three-year-old sprinters Zero Hedge and Super Junior (one each).
Super Junior (Derek Leung Ka-chun) actually lines up in the following race, the Class Three Riding High Together Handicap (1,200m).
A wide draw has put a major dent in the gelding’s chances, although it helps that two main rivals have also drawn awkwardly.
Fantastic Eight (Umberto Rispoli) keeps running bold races, but will need to work forward from barrier 10, while likely favourite Master Albert (Moreira) has again drawn wide in 13.
Master Albert looks like a Class One in the making for trainer Chris So Wai-yin but will again need to spot the leaders a start if Moreira again elects to take the safe option and go back.
There isn’t a lot of speed in the race so the Magic Man may opt to follow Fantastic Eight across and find a handy spot – something the horse is capable of.
Moreira has a terrific chance earlier when Gran Master contests the Class Four World City Handicap (1,800m).
Peter Ho Leung’s grey has been edging closer to a victory and this is the course and distance that should provide the best opportunity.
One of the more interesting runners on the day is the John Size-trained three-year-old Southern Express (Sam Clipperton), returning to action in the Class Four Continuous Development Handicap (1,200m).
The well-bred gelding, by Redoute’s Choice out of a Galileo mare, was sent out short-priced favourite at his first two starts earlier this season.
A ninth on debut and a 14th, beaten 13 lengths, second-up are results that don’t look good on paper but Southern Express had excuses, especially last start when trapped wide.
A post-race scope revealing blood on his trachea after that last run in November is a worry though, although a six-week break and four trials since mid-March have Southern Express ready.
Breeding says his trip will probably be too short, but barrier three should allow the rather one-paced conveyance a better chance than he has had at his first two starts.