Classic Emperor goes to the top of the weights at Sha Tin on Saturday but he is still going to take some beating in the Hong Kong Shipowners Association 60th Anniversary Cup (1,650m).
Trainer Chris So Wai-yin broke a five-week losing streak on Wednesday night at Happy Valley and he can follow up quickly in this Class Two cup race with his “new” dirt horse Classic Emperor (Keith Yeung Ming-lun).
Classic Emperor isn’t exactly a new horse, as he had been a solid stable stalwart in his first 25 starts on the turf tracks for So.
But two starts ago, So elected to give the six-year-old a try on the dirt and he absolutely exploded, winning a Class Two over this distance by almost seven lengths and demolishing some in-form horses.
It probably should not have come as much of a surprise that he would handle the all-weather track as Classic Emperor’s pedigree all says dirt, but the manner of the win was the surprise as he sat on a solid pace then cruised away in fast times.
Since then, So could only find a 1,200m dirt race to run the gelding but he did not let anyone down even with the big switch back in distance, running on powerfully for third to Fight Hero (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu) and House Of Fun.
That was an excellent pointer to this race over what looks a more suitable distance and Classic Emperor is the one to beat, even though he does rise from carrying 121 pounds to 131.
He will be one of the group rolling forward into the first turn, with California Whip, Sunny Win, Beauty Prince and Big Bang Bong (Brett Prebble) but he doesn’t have to lead and a good position in the first three or four is probably suitable.
His danger might be the same horse who beat him last time, Fight Hero, even though he is less of a known commodity at the 1,650m.
His only start over the distance was on a very wet track a long time ago, when he was slow away and then worked hard getting up towards the lead, so it was no surprise to see him fail.
Fight Hero has lost some of his pace in 1,200m races but the step up in distance might see him travel more comfortably nearer the speed.
The hopes do not end there as Big Bang Bong has a chance if you can overlook his run last week when he was part of a leading group that went too fast, while stablemate Prawn Baba (Sam Clipperton) is an interesting prospect having his first run on the surface from a good draw.