Ivictory is destined to be rated too highly to ever be considered a Happy Valley specialist but his trainer John Size is earning a reputation as one as he clears away to a 10th championship.
Size’s five-year-old returns to the city track after a dominant win there two weeks ago that signalled the sprinter – who is now rated 95 after winning five from six – was bound for the big races.
With no black-type sprints at the smaller track, there is a chance that Ivictory will never race there again if, as expected, he beats his six rivals in Wednesday night’s Class Two Flame Tree Handicap (1,200m).
While Ivictory may never get a chance to build a record at the Valley, and even though Size is better known for his exploits at Sha Tin, the Australian trainer’s strike rate at the track is surprisingly strong.
Fourteen of Size’s 57 wins this term have been at Happy Valley, second most behind course specialist Caspar Fownes, and his strike rate of 14 per cent at the track is also second-highest among all trainers.
Size was second to Fownes in total wins at the track last season, sharing the equal top strike rate (16 per cent) with Fownes as well.
Ivictory is one of five runners Size sends across town on Wednesday night and looks the best chance of success in a race where the gelding’s tractability should come to the fore.
Although blessed with an abundance of early natural speed, Ivictory’s ability to take a sit will come in handy in what promises to be a highly tactical race on the A course.
“He has the speed to keep up with the 1,000m horses but he can throttle down too if he needs to,” Size said after the last start display, in which Joao Moreira bounced Ivictory from barrier 11 and sat outside the leader, before making an early move on the turn to draw away.
The presence of natural front-runner Fantastic Eight (Umberto Rispoli) in barrier four means a similar scenario shapes for Moreira here as Ivictory starts from gate six.
Ivictory will sit outside Fantastic Eight and although giving Ricky Yiu Poon-fai’s tough sprinter 10 pounds, Size’s horse should have enough firepower to out gun him in the straight.
The biggest danger from a stalking position behind the speed could be California Whip (Zac Purton).
After experimenting with races over further and on dirt, trainer Tony Cruz has brought the five-year-old back to sprints with good effect, and from barrier one he looms as the obvious quinella horse.
Later in the night, Size and Moreira get another chance to build on their freakish record together this season when Har Har Heart shoots for back-to-back wins in the Class Four Rotary Centenary Challenge Cup (1,650m).
The four-year-old jumps nine points for the big win on February 14 but returns three weeks later having drawn barrier one.
Moreira wasn’t so lucky at the draw with Spring Win and will need to work some of his trademark magic from barrier 12 in the Class Three Ireland Trophy (1,200m).
Spring Win was chasing three straight wins last start when second to Charity Glory over this course and distance, a race in which he could have finished closer to the winner or even won with more luck.
After being given a charmed run in transit by Alexis Badel, Spring Win was held up at a crucial stage and had to switch off the winner’s heels with 150m to go.