When a sprinter who ended his previous campaign with two good wins is making a long-awaited comeback from injury, one of the last runners you want to come up against on your return is the rapidly improving Nervous Witness.

But that’s the unenviable position trainer Douglas Whyte finds himself in with Mclucky, who makes his first start since June 2021 in the Class Two Cheong Ming Handicap (1,000m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.

Before suffering a tendon injury in July, the five-year-old’s form looked solid with a win over Stock Legend on his penultimate start followed by a neck victory over Sight Success, who finished second in the recent Group Two Sprint Cup and sixth in Sunday’s Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize at Sha Tin.

Whyte is pleased with how Mclucky has been performing ahead of his return and pinpointed this race for him some time ago.

“The programme dictates where you’re going to go and this race I had planned more than two months ago,” Whyte said.

“He’s obviously had the injury but I’ve given him two nice trials and that’s probably as much as I can do going into his first run. A lot will depend on the gate and it’s a pretty hot field, but the horse is resuming and whatever he does, I’m sure he’s going to improve on it.

“Because of his character, his tenacity and his will, he’s shown me that he wants to get back [to the races] and his character will allow him to.”

A good run by Mclucky may still not be enough to get him into the winner’s enclosure as he will probably need to resume in top condition if he is to beat the David Hayes-trained Nervous Witness.

A win down the straight at Sha Tin last time was his fourth of the season and means he is now rated 48 points higher than the start of the campaign.

His trainer is confident of another big run on Wednesday night before he tackles Group company either at the end of this season or in the next campaign.

“He’s carrying top weight but I think he’s gone on and improved again for his last run,” Hayes said. “This is a similar field to last time, but his attitude is getting better each week and he’s starting to deliver what he promises.

“I thought the horse who ran second to him last time, Stoltz, could be the danger as he’s a real Valley horse.”

Atomic Force, one of Europe’s top 10 juveniles in 2021, makes Hong Kong debut

It may be wishful thinking for Hayes to nominate just Stoltz as the danger as this looks a deep field for a midweek race under the lights.

Grateful Heart has a victory over Nervous Witness to his name after coming from well off the pace to finish third over 1,000m at Sha Tin on his last start in February. Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s runner was caught up in Conghua while the border was closed due to Covid-19 restrictions and returned to Hong Kong only last week.

Atomic Force was rated among the top 10 juveniles in Europe last year after wins at Group Three and Group Two level and made a pleasing enough Hong Kong debut when fourth to Nervous Witness over this course and distance last month.

He can be expected to improve with that experience under his belt and he impressed in a 1,000m turf trial at Conghua just over three weeks ago.