The in-form Silver Express will look to add another string to his bow at Sha Tin on Wednesday night when he lines up in the Class One Fo Tan Handicap (1,650m) at the all-dirt meeting.
The John Size-trained five-year-old was an impressive winner of the Class One Chevalier Cup (1,600m) last month, beating more-fancied stablemates and subsequent Group One runners Excellent Proposal and Lucky Express.
The 95-rated gelding now races on the all-weather track for the first time after Size thought he might as well try his luck.
“It was just the handicap actually, 95 [points] and the race is there with a nice weight to run at,” Size said when quizzed about his decision to experiment with Silver Express on the dirt.
Silver Express, who jumps from barrier three under Vagner Borges, has shown enough in his trials on the surface to suggest he’ll take to it under race conditions.
“He has a go on the dirt over 1,650m and they’re two unknowns,” Size said. “The mile might be as far as he wants to go but on the tight circuit he’ll probably get it, he’s got some speed.
“He’s trialled OK on the dirt but race pressure is a completely different thing, we’ll have to go and find out.”
Size also has Red Desert in the race but doesn’t have high hopes for the five-year-old, who will be ridden by Antoine Hamelin and jumps from barrier five.
“His best form is definitely over 1,200m but he’s a dirt horse so I think he probably should run if there’s a race on because he handles the track very well. We have to wait until a race comes up for him like we normally do,” Size said.
The 11-time champion trainer’s two-pronged attack comes up against dirt star Kings Shield – this race was changed from a Class Two to a Class One to cater for Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s 106-rated galloper – as well as Will Power, Californiadeepshot, Telecom Fighters and The Rock.
Kings Shield seems the likely leader from gate four but could find himself under some pressure from Telecom Fights out of barrier six, while Size’s runners should be able to bide their time just off the leaders.
Size saddles up eight gallopers at the meeting, which was a late addition to the programme after the Jockey Club decided to wedge a fixture in between Monday’s Boxing Day public holiday meeting and Saturday’s New Year’s Day card to replace the card lost because of Typhoon Kompasu in October.
The 67-year-old also sends around the likes of last-start winner Amazing Teens, the in-form Elon and Dragon Baby as he looks to continue a hot run of form.
After only one winner in September and three in October – not an uncharacteristically slow start by any means for the patient handler – Size reeled off 11 victories in November and has gone up another notch in December with 13 wins with a meeting remaining.
“The horses are running well and we’re certainly pleased with November and December,” the veteran said.