A switch of track, surface and distance looks the recipe to turn Dollar Reward into a winner in the Peninsula Golden Jubilee Challenge Cup (1,650m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained gelding has been something of a disappointment so far in Hong Kong, with his nine starts producing only two minor placings, although he has raced quite well on a number of occasions without running in the top three.
Punters have sent him out favourite in two of his four runs this campaign and failed to get a dividend but they have all been over 1,200m at Happy Valley.
The key to his prospects on Sunday is a switch to the all-weather surface combined with a lift in distance where things might not happen quite so quickly for him.
In the 1,200m races, Dollar Reward (Zac Purton) has not been error-free at the jump and that has left him with plenty to do when heads turned into the home straight.
Mostly he has run home quite well but after the race has got away from him and that is why the change of venue looks key.
In his previous career, Dollar Reward’s only win came at Wolverhampton on the Tapeta surface over 1,429m and he was placed in his only two attempts on Polytrack so it appears he is best suited by these types of tracks.
He did fail on the all-weather last season but those were his first two local starts, he wasn’t going as well as he is now and they were also over sprint courses, and his form overseas suggests this trip is more suitable.
The race has very little pace engaged, with Turin Pearl (Dylan Mo Hin-tung) the most likely front-runner with Go Beauty Go (Tommy Berry) and that lack of speed should allow Dollar Reward to race much closer, even if he isn’t the cleanest beginner.
If he can lay up close, he might just have a superior turn of foot over rivals which have been racing over the mile distances already and lack his zip.
One of those is his danger, however, with Go Beauty Go racing consistently at Happy Valley over 1,650m and he looks suited by the race set-up, especially if he can shake off his recent habit of messing up his starts.
Go Beauty Go is untried on the dirt track but he is by O’Reilly, whose stock seem to be able to do anything, and has looked all right on the surface at the barrier trials.
Willie Way (Karis Teetan) loves the surface and is going well, but the tempo is likely to be against him sitting out the back and Teetan will need to find the same fast lane from the rear which he identified when the gelding ran second last start.