Eagle Way won last year’s Queen Mother Memorial Cup and he has the class to go back-to-back in the Group Three at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The John Moore-trained five-year-old relishes the 2,400m trip, with his four starts over the journey returning two wins, including the Group One Queensland Derby, a third in the Champions & Chater Cup and an unplaced run in the Hong Kong Vase after an interrupted preparation.
He caught the eye with a third in the Group One QE II Cup behind Pakistan Star last week and is on the back-up and Moore, who has won four of the past six renewals of this race, is pleased with how he has recovered.
“He’s come through the run terrific, he’s pulled up as good as ever,” he said. “He’s eaten up, he’s very healthy and I couldn’t be happier. And the run itself was really good, he got blocked a couple of times on the turn and if he didn’t, I think he may have run second.”
Jockey Brett Prebble should be able to give Eagle Way a lovely run from barrier two, settling midfield in transit with Goldfield (Karis Teetan) likely to up the running.
With only a field of eight taking part, Prebble shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a run at the top of the straight and he has shown he can produce when it matters.
The two main concerns for Eagle Way are the weight – he is giving at least 12 pounds to every other runner – and his ability to bounce back after a short break, something he has never done in his career. If he can do that he is the horse beat.
His biggest danger is Tony Cruz’s Exultant, with the Hong Kong Derby placegetter another who should enjoy the 2,400m trip.
Zac Purton is likely to drop back from barrier seven before swinging out in the straight and giving Exultant every chance to hit the line hard.
The other runner in the mix is Prawn Baba (Joao Moreira), with the John Size-trained gelding winning over 2,200m last start but he meets Exultant four pounds worse off for beating him by a length-and-a-quarter.
It would be a shock if the winner came from outside those three, with the other contestants well out of the handicap.