Dr Listening looked to have his share of excuses first-up when finishing closer to last than first at Happy Valley but the David Hall-trained gelding should make amends on Thursday night in the Tai Hang Handicap (1,800m).
After a stable transfer during last season, Hall had Dr Listening (Chad Schofield) going well before the campaign ended, including a soft win over this course in July when Zac Purton was aboard.
That night in Class Three, Dr Listening had a lovely run in midfield before pouncing quickly when they straightened up and putting the race away.
When he resumed last month, punters remembered that win well and Dr Listening was sent out one of the big players over 1,650m but a wide draw meant Purton had to settle him towards the rear and that led to his problems later.
Dr Listening didn’t get the clearest of running in the straight and wound up almost five lengths from Sichuan Dar at the finish but he should have been much closer in the Class Two.
Stepping back up to 1,800m is in his favour and the structure of this race means that he drops to 115 pounds in the handicap and that will prove testing for some of his better performed rivals at the top of the weights. From gate five, Schofield should be able to find a similar trip to the one Purton gave the horse in July and that’s going to make him the one to beat.
If there are challenges for the top weights, then the main danger may come from one of the lighter-weighted runners, Beauty Prince (Dylan Mo Hin-tung).
The John Moore-trained gelding ran fourth in the race behind Sichuan Dar first-up, running home from midfield after early interference at the start stopped him racing closer.
From an inside draw with the apprentice rider aboard, Beauty Prince will carry 106 pounds and surely Moore will want to make use of that weight by taking a forward position.