The John Size-trained Nothingilikemore will be out to avoid the general hoodoo on hot favourites in the Classic Cup (1,800m) at Sha Tin on Sunday and take another step towards Rapper Dragon status.
Rapper Dragon won the Classic Cup last year at odds-on before taking the Derby as well as the first four-year-old series clean sweep winner.
There are many similarities between Nothingilikemore (Joao Moreira) and last season’s ill-fated classic champion and a win on Sunday will only enhance that view.
The most obvious similarity is that each looked to be head and shoulders above others of his age group with genuine ability of their own, but Rapper Dragon continued to maintain that gap as the distances got longer and now Nothingilikemore needs to do the same.
His Classic Mile win was comfortable enough but, if you wanted to split straws, it would be that Nothingilikemore didn’t clear out at the finish of a race where the two horses he beat, Singapore Sling (Chad Schofield) and Morethanlucky (Karis Teetan) had done some more work in running than he had.
When Ruthven charged along in front, Morethanlucky and Singapore Sling were right there chasing him, while Nothingilikemore had a picnic further back in the field. When the pace slowed coming around the home bend, Moreira made his move forward and thus made the ground quickly without really having to work that hard to do it.
On the clock, it was as good a ride as you would ever see from the Magic Man – less effort when others are burning, asked to go when the others rest – and it wouldn’t have surprised if Nothingilikemore had run away to win by three lengths.
Still, that could be seen as nit-picking – the aim of the game is to win the race and he was never going to lose.
He may be closer to the speed today going up in distance, with likely leader The Golden Age usually running along at an even rather than fast speed.
If Nothingilikemore sits a few lengths off the leader, favourite backers will be expecting him to produce that same twinkling brand of acceleration that puts his races away in a flash. Then we find out if he can stay the 1,800m right out, in this grade anyway. Superior Classic Cup or Derby horses aren’t always the best stayers, they are often just the best racehorse in the field of their peers.
Exultant (Zac Purton) was left behind when Nothingilikemore sprinted in the Classic Mile but did pull the margin at the finish back to more like the margin between them before Moreira had pressed the button. He will keep coming at the end of 1,800m, it’s just whether he is close enough for that to make a difference.