A run under the belt and a step up in distance look the keys to success for the John Moore-trained Magic Legend in the Kwangtung Handicap Cup (1,400m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The four-year-old was running on for fourth to Seasons Bloom in the Chief Executive’s Cup over 1,200m seven days ago and was probably unlucky not to finish closer.
Most thought Magic Legend (Tommy Berry) would be the horse stalking the leaders in that race, but that went out the window when he was caught up in a scrimmage as the gates opened.
While that was happening, Zac Purton was able to drive Blizzard across to sit third and Berry was one place further back when the dust cleared.
For all of that, Magic Legend did seem to be beaten for a change of gears at the 300m when Seasons Bloom gave him wind burn, but he knuckled down well in the final stages when he got wound up to be closing better than all but the winner.
Berry jumped off and declared to Moore that Magic Legend was looking for 1,400m and he comes back to the track with the extra distance and having a had a race.
That match fitness could prove a winning edge late in the race, with most of the other runners making their first appearance for the new season.
The flip side of that run is that Magic Legend has never had to race twice in seven days before, although he did win in Australia off only a 12-day break between runs as a two-year-old.
Winner’s Way (Zac Purton) looked a horse with a good future as a four-year-old, winning four of his 10 starts and finishing second another three times, and the Tony Cruz-trained gelding is probably going to be eyeing off a spot in a race like the Hong Kong Mile as his campaign unfolds.
He looks the obvious leader of the race and Purton will get to run it how he sees fit but his pattern has been to let the gelding roll along at a good speed rather than stack the field up.
With no trouble at the start on Sunday, Magic Legend should be keeping close watch on the leader in the run to the home turn then the serious work begins as he looks to get past him and that’s where the benefit of a race could kick in.
Of the rest, Jolly Banner (Chad Schofield) is a very interesting proposition as there is an old formline between him and Winner’s Way.
Jolly Banner had no excuse when he finished second in that race at Happy Valley in April but it was 1,650m, not the 1,400m where Jolly Banner has won all his races. The Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained gelding now has a 15-pound weight turnaround with Winner’s Way.