The cramped overnight odds look a misleading guide to his chances but the John Size-trained Ping Hai Star can place his name alongside up with some local legends by winning the HK$24 million Audemars Piguet QE II Cup at Sha Tin.
Ping Hai Star (Joao Moreira) looked every bit the real deal with his last-to-first Derby win to overwhelm his own age group last month.
If he was guaranteed to turn up like that again and with the right pace in the race for him, then he might be a legitimate short-odds chance.
However, Size himself has pointed out that the small field will impact the pace and, seven weeks on, that Ping Hai Star needs to be at least as good as he was on Derby day when he steps up in class on Sunday.
The Derby carries good stake money and a lot of prestige but is a race for local four-year-olds racing local four-year-olds. Most of the runners carried a domestic handicap rating of less than 100 into the race and the two most prominent finishers which have run since, third and fourth-placed Exultant and Ruthven, respectively, were beaten in Class Two.
Contrast that with the assignment ahead of Ping Hai Star against some older, more experienced horses and not one of them holding an international rating of less than 112. That is a harder test that most Derby winners in years gone by have mostly bypassed or failed.
The QE II Cup went international in 1995 and it was five years before a local four-year-old won it – Industrialist, who finished fourth in the Derby – and another five years before Vengeance Of Rain became the first Derby winner to do the double.
Since then, their record has been better thanks to Ambitious Dragon, Designs On Rome and Werther, but since Industrialist, some towering Derby winners like Olympic Express, Viva Pataca, Lucky Owners and Collection (who went to the Champions Mile), were buried next time against their elders.
For all of that, Ping Hai Star looks as good a threat in an open race as any, particularly if the Japanese keep Time Warp (Zac Purton) bobbing.
Al Ain (Cristian Demuro) and Danburite (Tommy Berry) both like to race forward, although not actually lead in their races. That should allow Purton to skip across early and find the front, but Demuro and Berry will know that their race might be stolen away if Time Warp is totally allowed to dictate.
They have mounts capable of applying some pressure a fair way out and that competition on the front end should ensure that all runners can get into the race, including a strong finisher like Ping Hai Star or last year’s runner-up, Pakistan Star (William Buick), if his new jockey can coax the right effort from him.