He was among the initial entries for the Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1,200m) but John Moore’s three-year-old Styling City will instead aim for a more achievable target at Sha Tin on Sunday.
While Styling City was a respectable sixth behind Beat The Clock at Group One level two starts back, the chances of him outdoing that horse and the likes of Mr Stunning and Australian thunderbolt Santa Ana Lane at the top level this weekend would have been slim.
While he has saluted in Class Two level this season, Styling City took a long time to really wind up last time out when finishing third in the grade after Moore removed the blinkers.
He will put them back on for Sunday’s Class Two FWD Insurance Elite Handicap (1,200m) to ensure the horse is switched on throughout.
“I applied the blinkers back on again because we needed to get him focused,” Moore said of Styling City, who will be ridden by Zac Purton.
“Zac was of the opinion that the blinkers were required to get his attention. He was looking around [at his last start], there was a flat spot at the corner and the last 200m he really hit the line.
“The application of the blinkers should get him up much closer and travelling more keenly, which we want.”
Moore gave Styling City an 11-week break after that Group One run and says he has lost a touch of zip.
“Physically, he’s improved but he’s lost that early speed. He tends to want to get back in his races and finish off,” Moore said.
“He is looking for more ground – 1,200m should be perfect at this stage but he is giving me the indication he will get 1,400m.”
While Moore is confident Styling City has plenty more to give at the 1,200m, a couple of Tony Millard first-starters look certain to do their best work over further.
South African imports Graceandmercy and Cot Campbell make their Hong Kong debuts in the race after running well at Group level before moving to Sha Tin.
Graceandmercy won the Group Two Gauteng Guineas (1,600m) at his most recent start in March last year, one of the four-year-old’s two Group Two successes, but did win at 1,200m on debut in 2017.
Cot Campbell also won at 1,200m during his two-year-old season but went onto better things over further, finishing fourth in the Group One Cape Guineas (1,600m).
Graceandmercy has been lumped with a rating of 95, meaning the gelding has very little room to move at the top of Class Two, while Cot Campbell comes in at 83. Both gallopers have won barrier trials since being in Hong Kong.
And the South African first-starters don’t stop there, with the David Ferraris-trained Seerite Dragon stepping out after a false start when he was scratched at the barriers two weeks ago.
Remarkably, it was Seerite Dragon running into second when Graceandmercy first saluted at Group Two level at Turffontein in November of 2017.
Also in the race are the Tony Cruz-trained California Fortune and John Size’s Full Of Beauty, who ran the quinella ahead of Styling City on April 7.
Full Of Beauty is looking to return to the winner’s list after California Fortune put an end to his unbeaten run of five wins to start his career.