It is not quite the “two years, 264 days and this morning” his namesake spent between home visits in Gladiator, but it has been a long time since Tony Millard’s troublesome import Maximus, who arrived in Hong Kong with a black type victory and a four-start perfect record, visited a winner’s circle.

When Maximus jumps from the outside gate – more on that below – to contest the Class Two Kwok Shui Handicap (1,650m) on Sha Tin’s all-dirt, nine-event midweek card, two years, 236 days and Wednesday morning will have passed since his last kill.

It was fellow Kwok Shui Handicap entrant Berlin Tango whom Maximus slew in the Road To The Kentucky Derby Conditions Stakes (1,600m) on Kempton Park’s all-weather track in March 2020 to post his fourth win from four races across the United Kingdom and France, one of which was a Listed turf mile.

But three months before the 146th Run for the Roses in Kentucky, Maximus was moved out of Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Newmarket stable and sent to Millard in Hong Kong, where he underwent an immediate name change – from Chares, who was an Athenian military commander, to Maximus – and a subsequent gelding operation after his eight-loss first campaign.

One second and two thirds were all Maximus had to show for his turf-only first season in Hong Kong, towards the end of which he not only sustained a left front tendon injury during trackwork but also underwent two veterinary procedures – the first to remove chip fragments from his right knee and the second to take out his testicles.

Never did Millard lose his faith in Maximus, though, and the galloper rewarded the two-time South African champion trainer with his encouraging Class Three Chinese Recreation Club Challenge Cup (1,200m) second at Sha Tin earlier this month on what was his first appearance in 511 days and his first dirt race since he defeated Berlin Tango in southwest London.

“He hadn’t run for 18 months, so it was a nice run,” said Millard of Maximus, who wore a crossed nose band for the first time when runner-up to Man Star.

“He was a handful [before his castration]. He’s a trying horse. He’s not a normal horse. But all those horses who can run, they’ve always got their quirks. You’ve just got to try and work around it.

“Stepping up to the mile, that’s more his distance, but you always need a little bit of luck.”

The luck for which Millard was hoping was “a decent draw for once” after “last Wednesday, I had four runners – three drew 10 and the other one drew 11”, but Maximus must attempt to break his Hong Kong duck in the Kwok Shui Handicap from the widest barrier.

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The eight horses declared to compete against Maximus in the Kwok Shui Handicap include the aforementioned Berlin Tango from the Tony Cruz yard and two of Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s six highest-rated gallopers, Kings Shield (103) and All For St Paul’s (91).

Maximus, whom Lyle Hewitson is booked to ride, is one of five Millard-conditioned horses named to race on Wednesday, with Yee Cheong Brave, Compulsory, Golden Fairy and Ultra Express set to accompany their stablemate and handler to Sha Tin.

In late news out of Sunday’s action at the same venue, Jockey Club stewards issued Dylan Mo Hin-tung with a two-meeting suspension and HK$2,500 penalty for his careless riding of Splendid Star in the first race, while Keith Yeung Ming-lun must pay a HK$25,000 fine for his failure to ride out Coming Patch in race five to the satisfaction of the panel.