John Size-trained runners usually perform well at their first time switching to the dirt and Eastern Express has the attributes to prove hard to beat in the Hebe Hill Handicap (1,650m) at Sha Tin on Wednesday night.
The Class Two to finish the night looks a decent contest full of proven dirt horses but Eastern Express (Zac Purton) should give them a run for their money.
The Irish-bred son of Fastnet Rock is the right style of horse to succeed on the surface and his trials on it have always been very good.
He resumed for the season on the main track just over two weeks ago, finishing seventh to Citron Spirit but wasn’t beaten far and it did look like the run would improve him.
Eastern Express is at the dreaded 100 rating, where here has to carry the top weight against smart opposition, and it remains to be seen how much higher he is going, but Size has been known to use the surface switch to squeeze the last bit of rating out of a horse around his mark on the turf.
It won’t be easy in what looks an open race but Eastern Express has the right draw and the tactical capabilities to use it.
There looks to be pace with King Genki drawn wide, Classic Emperor drawn low and Victor Marvel in the middle and the short run to the first turn at this distance usually leads to a busy first 200 metres at least.
Purton will be looking to park Eastern Express just behind the leaders, then waiting to get properly involved rounding the home turn.
There are plenty of dangers and Divine Boy (Joao Moreira) is one of them after winning impressively in Class Three last time while Friends Of Ka Ying (Sam Clipperton) and Baba Mama (Karis Teetan) also have claims.
And punters should be wary of improvement from the Tony Cruz-trained Super Chic (Matthew Chadwick), a horse who has shown talent on soft ground in Italy who shapes like he will appreciate the dirt.