Rise High (133lb) will attempt to make Group 1 form count when he carries top-weight in the G3 Premier Plate (1800m) at Sha Tin on Sunday, 23 June.
The talented five-year-old’s only previous Pattern race success came as a juvenile, in the G3 Golden Fleece Stakes (1600m) at Leopardstown, Ireland. But trainer Caspar Fownes has long regarded his charge as a top-liner and a new-found maturity brought a strong late run to second behind Hong Kong’s top stayer, Exultant, in the G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) last month.
“He ran well,” jockey Vincent Ho said. “He just got beat about a length off Exultant and that day they went a slow pace and Zac (Purton) took off early. If the pace had been genuine, it’s hard to say, but I probably could have got him.”
Having come up just short in the Hong Kong season’s final major, the bay will attempt to make amends in the campaign’s last Pattern race. The hope from the Fownes camp is that Rise High can follow a recent trend and springboard from a Premier Plate victory to top-flight honours: Exultant won this race off top-weight last year en route to three G1 wins, while Helene Paragon took the late-season feature in 2016 and then sealed a G1 brace the next term.
“As long as he relaxes, he can run home very strongly – when you relax him he can produce something,” Ho said.