On what he has shown so far in his short career, Mission Tycoon could develop into one of Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s banner horses and he gets the opportunity to take the next step in the Class Two HKU Jockey Club Student Village Handicap (1,200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The bustling three-year-old won both of his Australian starts before making the move north and, after impressing in his trials, jumped a $2.10 favourite in his Hong Kong debut but he finished fourth, beaten a length and three-quarters by the smart Star Shine.
But it was his second run where he really highlighted his upside, settling in the box seat and despite being held up at the top of the straight, he scorched away from his rivals when he found daylight with subsequent winner Solar Patch coming second, two lengths back.
While that is his most recent start, he showed his development with a terrific trial last week.
Taking into account the fact the opposition was limited, it was a scintillating piece of work as he cruised away to win his heat by 10-and-a-quarter lengths untouched.
There were three trials over 1,200m on Sha Tin’s all-weather surface that morning and he was clearly the quickest, finishing .81 of a second faster than the earlier heat won by John Size’s boom four-year-old Conte, who is undefeated after five starts.
So while that all looks good, the step up to Class Two is never easy – especially for a three-year-old – and Mission Tycoon faces some serious opposition on Sunday.
Size’s duo of Gunnison and Calculation both present big obstacles, the Caspar Fownes-trained Montreal looked like a serious sprinter winning down the Sha Tin straight a fortnight ago, while Richard Gibson’s Wishful Thinker inflicted Hot King Prawn’s first defeat with a stunning finishing burst last start.
Joao Moreira retains the ride on Mission Tycoon and has drawn the inside alley, so he should be able to park behind the likely leader Shamal and if he can find clear running from there he will be hard to run down with just 118 pounds on his back.
The battle between Moreira and Zac Purton for the jockeys’ championship has captured the imagination of the racing public and it is set to take centre-stage again.
The status quo remained on Wednesday night with two victories each, but on face value, the Magic Man has the better mounts and can extend his two-win lead on Sunday.
The Brazilian finishes off the meeting with Mission Tycoon, but five of his eight remaining rides are on the verge of breaking through after placing last start.
Mission Tycoon’s stablemate Superich looked terrific winning on debut but he had his chances significantly harmed when bumped just after the gates opened at his second start.
Despite the setback, the three-year-old rallied to finish third behind boom sprinter Refined Treasure and there don’t look to be any horses of that quality in this contest.
The fortunes of David Hall could also play a role in the race within the races with Moreira on two chances – Magic Success and Intrepic – while Purton is aboard Seventy Seventy.
This has been a tough season for Hall, but four of his 13 winners came in May so the tide looks to be turning.
Magic Success seemed to relish the step up to 1,400m last start, hitting the line hard to finish fourth and he should be in the finish again, while Intrepic is looking to go one better after falling a head sort of Bold Stitch in his most recent run.
But the promising Seventy Seventy could be his best chance, having found a very winnable race off the back of his fast-finishing third at Happy Valley last start.
Purton will be hoping Hall’s three-year-old, Montreal and Hong Kong debutants Bellagio and Beauty Loyal can fire and keep Moreira honest.