When you’ve won your past two races and been raised eight pounds for your most recent success, you might expect to go into your next run as the biggest improver in the field.
And there’s no doubt Super Axiom has found a new lease on life ahead of the Class Three Cleverly Handicap (1,000m) at Happy Valley on Tuesday but the Me Tsui Yu-sak-trained four-year-old comes up against a galloper who has been even more impressive while stringing together consecutive wins in Gorgeous Vitality.
Gorgeous Vitality was given a 12-point hike in the ratings after his latest victory – a three-and-a-half-length romp – and, after five winless starts to begin his career, he has jumped 22 points in the ratings in two starts.
Super Axiom also faces Equaletta Blitz, who was impressive when winning his last start and jumped eight points for his efforts.
The result is a quality sprint with some hugely in-form runners and Super Axiom now has to transfer the form he has showed at Sha Tin in his past two starts to the turning track at Happy Valley.
Winless in 13 starts following a debut success for David Hayes in November 2020, Super Axiom has been rejuvenated by Tsui and made the most of a plum draw in stall 14 to win by a length and a half on his penultimate start.
Anybody thinking that was a fluke success were firmly put in their place last time when he again grabbed the rail early, this time after breaking from stall seven, and holding on easily to beat Amazing Rocky by two lengths.
So the four-year-old can hardly be in better nick under Dylan Mo Hin-tung after two front-running successes but how he jumps from gate four could prove vital this time around as he faces a host of potential rivals to get to the front.
Bravo, Dylan Mo! 🙌 The 28-year-old lands his 100th Hong Kong win with a superb front-running display aboard Super Axiom. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/MUA5oY7lLt— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) May 22, 2022
With Harmony N Blessed (gate three), Wine And Wine (gate one) and Joyful Win (gate five) all showing their best form when leading, there is likely to be a burn-up to take charge and that’s before factoring in the presence of Gorgeous Vitality from barrier six.
Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s three-year-old blitzed the field when making all the running on his last start over course and distance so he clearly possesses the speed to lead, but he has shown more tactical versatility than others in the field.
Two starts ago the improving youngster travelled just ahead of midfield before unleashing a sparkling turn of foot to win by three and three-quarter lengths and his partner Zac Purton will know that he has plenty of options at his disposal depending on the pace on display in the opening stages.
While Gorgeous Vitality steps up to Class Three for the first time, Equaletta Blitz has never fallen below that level since arriving in Hong Kong in 2020.
A winner off a rating of 71 in February 2021, he had dropped to a mark of 63 before saluting last time for the combination of trainer Douglas Whyte and jockey Lyle Hewitson.
He was given a great tow into the race by Harmony N Blessed on that occasion and could well be the one to benefit if the likely pace battle ensues.