A key gear change and step up in trip can help Dr Listening add another winner to the burgeoning combination of Zac Purton and David Hall at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
Purton has ridden 11 winners for Hall this season at better than 26 per cent and placed in exactly half of his rides for the stable.
Those 11 wins have been part of a standout campaign for the Australian jockey, who has 103 winners heading into the second last meeting of the season, passing three figures for the second time in his career.
It is also more than all of the victories Purton had ridden for Hall prior to this term, with the jockey riding just eight winners for the stable previously.
If Dr Listening had maintained a straight course to the finishing line last start then Purton would probably have one more win already.
Having settled back in the field and with the rail in the C + 3, Purton was forced to take the widest route on the home turn.
Dr Listening still made ground quickly after straightening, but the four-year-old hung in as went to challenge eventual winner Outlawed.
Purton was forced to change hands with the whip, with Dr Listening beaten just a neck on the line.
Dr Listening will now wear sheepskin cheek pieces on Wednesday and the side shades should be enough to sharpen the gelding up and keep him focussed under pressure.
Even more important will be the step up to 1,800m in the Class Three Silver Grecian Handicap, especially with the gear change.
It was only race position that cost Dr Listening last start, but Purton should be able land in a spot a touch closer in a race where they won’t go as hard.
The distance shouldn’t be a problem for a horse that most felt was Derby-bound after he had won three of his first four starts for former trainer John Size.
Being the final Valley meeting of the season, it is a competitive race containing three last start winners and others that look ready to make their mark.
Kiram (Callan Murray) must be considered after bursting into form last start, trainer David Ferraris citing feet issues as having held the miler back previously.
If those issues have been corrected, Kiram does seem to have some upside and is clearly the one for Dr Listening to beat.
Thunder Stomp (Jack Wong Ho-nam) has been racing well and could end up leading by default, not a bad place to be in a race lacking speed.
Purton also rides Super Turbo for Hall in the final race of the night, the Class Two Sweet Orange Handicap (1,200m).
Looking hard to beat and getting into that race under the extended band conditions is Chris So Wai-yin’s speedy type Racing Supernova, with Brett Prebble booked to ride.
Prebble scored a breakthrough winner on Sunday when General Sherman prevailed in a dramatic finish and the veteran hoop could be set for another big return.
Prebble also rides Green Card for trainer John Moore in the Class Three Kings Falcon Handicap (1,200m).
Green Card has been somewhat disappointing in winning just one from 20 since arriving from Australia, but a switch to the city track and nice draw should bring him into contention.
Also drawn well is Grace Heart (Douglas Whyte), with Caspar Fownes going to the well one more time with a sprinter who has won two of his last three.