Joao Moreira has a couple of hurdles to jump from an awkward gate on Phantom Falcon at Happy Valley on Wednesday night but, if he can work his magic, the four-year-old looks the one to beat in the Hong Kong Exchanges Challenge Cup (1,200m).

The Peter Ho Leung-trained Phantom Falcon is still relatively lightly raced at this stage and has been very consistent in his performances ridden for the lead in most of his races, including a win in Class Four over the course and distance earlier this season.

At his latest appearance though, he showed that he is not a one-trick pony speed runner and that looks important in the context of this race.

Underneath him at the barrier draw, Phantom Falcon, from gate 10, will have other fast horses like California Aspar, Orionids (Jack Wong Ho-nam), Who Else But You and Best Step.

Derek Leung is keeping the faith with Peter Ho’s ‘tough little sprinter’ Phantom Falcon

At least two or three will come out of the gates running hard for the lead and Phantom Falcon might well be one of them, but his latest run showed that there may be a second option for him if the pressure is too much.

Phantom Falcon was beaten into fourth last start on the dirt after making a complete mess of the start but what was to like about it was how he closed the race off from near the tail of the field.

What that says is, although his pace is a great weapon, Phantom Falcon might also respond to dropping in behind the leaders, which he may be forced to do from his wide gate this evening.

In an open race, Orionids has a chance despite the pressure, as he carries a light weight and the inside draw probably allows him first access at the rail as he should be faster than California Aspar.

The other major danger should be Fantastic Feeling (Karis Teetan), who has been racing very well getting home at the end of his races, as is his style, and might get a more competitive speed to run at this time.