A light handicap weight and some tactical versatility can pave the way for the Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained Megatron to land the Hong Kong Country Club Challenge Cup (1,650m) at Happy Valley on Sunday.
The once-a-year Valley day meeting features another of the Class Four cups, which seem to be prevalent lately, and honest Megatron (Matthew Poon Ming-fai) gets a chance to score his second victory over the extended mile at the city course and keep Yiu’s good start to the term rolling along.
Megatron isn’t going to make anyone’s list of all-time greats but he does try hard and has been solid without being able to overcome tricky barrier draws at his two starts this season.
He went to the lead from a wide draw first-up when third to Speedy Wally and then Karis Teetan elected to ride him conservatively second-up and gave Megatron an excellent piece of steering into fourth behind Wah May Baby.
But the key to Sunday’s race is how Megatron was ridden in that first-up run. Leaders are not thick on the ground in this trophy event but Dragon Dance did lead last time and ran his best race yet.
That wasn’t setting the bar too high but it was an improvement and if he is sent to the lead again with a light weight from barrier seven, that gives Poon the opportunity to follow him across from barrier eight with an even lighter weight.
That part of the race will be crucial and if Megatron is able to get across to one of the front positions early, then he is going to be hard to run down with 110 pounds on his back after Poon’s claim.
For dangers, there are quite a few. One of the more interesting runners is Quick Return, with Zac Purton and blinkers going on the top weight as he takes the drop down into Class Four for the first time.
The blinkers are something of an unknown as he didn’t wear them in New Zealand and he hasn’t trialled in them here but the gear chance catches the eye.
What is known is that Quick Return won three races in New Zealand so he is quite well placed in this grade and his latest runs in Class Three are better than they look on paper. He ran on well behind Star Majestic two runs ago then was checked at the 400m before making up good ground again behind Gonna Run.
Also of interest is the David Ferraris-trained Daring Heart (Derek Leung Ka-chun). He was never really out of trouble second-up behind Gentry and punters should give him credit for better than the sixth placing he has on paper. Daring Heart is well handicapped now, well drawn and can be a player here.