With a couple of last-start winners and a host of gallopers with the potential to take improvement from a switch to dirt, the Class Three Pui O Handicap (1,200m) at Sha Tin on Wednesday night could well turn into a thriller.
Richard Gibson saddles up Loving A Boom, who makes just his second dirt appearance in Hong Kong at the age of seven.
Despite his advancing years, he still retains plenty of ability – saluting on turf at Happy Valley two starts ago – but Gibson is worried about the likely underfoot conditions for his veteran.
“It’s an interesting ratings band race, 85-60, for him,” Gibson said. “But the track at the moment is likely to be in very poor condition due to the heavy rain.
“They can be ugly races when the dirt is this bad and it’s about who can handle the very tough conditions best.”
Frankie Lor Fu-chuen is in with a real shout of winning his first trainers’ championship this season and sits just three wins behind leader John Size after a double at Sha Tin on Sunday.
He will have high hopes that Like That can follow up his recent victory at Happy Valley with Joao Moreira again on board.
He may have his work cut out as that latest success came when dropping to Class Four level for the first time since his previous win in January 2021 and the step up to Class Three has always proved beyond him in the past.
The four-year-old also disappointed in his only dirt start, finishing seventh on his final run last season at this level.
Lightning Bolt made a successful transition to dirt when winning impressively on his third start in Hong Kong last time and has always been well backed ahead of each of his runs.
Never sent off at bigger than $4.3 in the city, he could well have won on his debut but for receiving a troubled run for much of the Sha Tin straight and he put a disappointing fifth on his next start behind him when bolting up on his first dirt run just over a month ago.
O’Sullivan targets all-weather meeting at Sha Tin with Duke Wai and Apache Pass
On that occasion Lightning Bolt beat dirt specialist Everyone’s Victory, who has finished first or second in seven of his past eight runs on the all-weather track, and he is primed for another big run with the in-form Karis Teetan taking the ride.
Drops Of God worked his way up from Class Four to Class Two level in just six runs and this race with its ratings band of 85-60 means he takes on potentially inferior rivals than he otherwise would.
The Size-trained runner has been holding his form well in Class Two company on turf, finishing second to his stablemate Scores Of Fun last time out, and it will be interesting to see how he handles this surface for the first time.