Jockey Zac Purton and trainer David Hall have become a formidable combination in recent seasons and Heroic Guru can give them another win when the stayer steps up in trip on Wednesday night at Happy Valley.
Purton has ridden 21 winners for Hall since 2007, but 12 of those victories came last term at an impressive strike rate of 27 per cent.
Jing Jing Win’s first-up victory was Purton’s only other winner for Hall so far in 2017-18, but a big run from Heroic Guru last start indicates the seven-year-old should relish a step up to 1,800m in the Class Three Employees’ Service Handicap.
Heroic Guru has never been a world-beater, battling bouts of lameness throughout his career.
The gelding started last season on a rating of 86 – a career peak – but was struck down with a suspensory problem in his right hind leg that kept him away from the races for nearly six months.
Not surprisingly, Heroic Guru was a non-factor in two runs over 1,200m this time in, a distance far short of his best.
A step up to 1,650m third-up brought about sharp improvement though, Heroic Guru flashing home for fourth behind Star Majestic after settling well back in the field.
With the required race fitness under his belt, Hall has decided to strike while the iron is hot and send him back to the races on a one-week back up and has found a particularly weak Class Three.
Heroic Guru faces just 10 rivals over a course and distance that is probably his best now that he is older.
The race looms as a typical two-turn staying contest at the Valley, with the small field and a possible lack of speed likely to make tactics key.
Jolly Gene (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu) is the obvious leader in a race where most of his rivals prefer to take a sit, but expect those back in the field to be ready to make moves in the back straight if required.
Ho Ho Feel (Derek Leung Ka-chun) comes back to the Valley where he seems to be better suited after an eye-catching effort over 1,800m at Sha Tin.
Another lightweight to watch is Paul O’Sullivan’s Rule Thee (Keith Yeung Ming-lun), who was beaten by a narrow margin late last season over 2,000m and trialled in a forward manner in the lead-up.
Purton looks a strong chance on another mount who is stepping up in trip in Chung Wah Spirit when he contests the Class Three Resident’s Service Handicap (1,650m).
Purton seemed to be sitting pretty on Chung Wah Spirit with a furlong to go last start, only to find Diamond King too strong in the run home.
Even though 1,650m might seem like a stretch, a switch to the Valley for the first time is worth a shot and the Valley’s shorter straight should suit.
Purton will be chasing three straight wins on Speedy Wally in the Class Four International Passenger Service Handicap (1,650m).
Speedy Wally has risen out of Class Five and another win will put the rejuvenated seven-year-old into Class Three.
The Caspar Fownes-trained gelding will be battling a six-pound weight turnaround on the horse he beat home last start, Torney (Umberto Rispoli).
Helping Speedy Wally this time will be a better draw, with barrier four on the B course meaning Purton can be closer in the run.