When Hong Kong’s Green Birdie and Lucky Nine – both trained by Casper Fownes and ridden by Tye Angland and Brett Prebble, respectively – take their places on Sunday in the Group 2 Centaur Stakes run over 1200 metres at Hashiin Racecourse in Japan, they will be carrying the hopes of many – in Oz and Hong Kong.

For Angland, who has made a sensational impact on Hong Kong racing despite a bad fall which put him out of action for a few months, riding in Japan must rate as one of his career highlights.

For Prebble, it’s just one more bow to add to what seems like his objective to be seen as a truly international jockey.

Coming second to arch-rival Douglas Whyte in the Hong Kong Jockeys Championship, year in and year out, means having to change career strategies.

For trainer Casper Fownes to forego the opening day of the Hong Kong racing season and focus on Japan shows his ambitions to put himself, Hong Kong and his owners’ horses on the world racing map.

Behind that outwardly happy-go-lucky personality is very competitive and highly professional individual who loves to win.

Duh! Who loves to lose?

So, how will they do in Japan?

Racing in Japan is always a helter-skelter affair and with horses going all out to lead.

Sometimes, they just keep leading and so, any “waiting tactics” have to be a very precise science.

We think Lucky Nine will go very VERY close to winning – but, as with anything in life, it won’t be easy pickings.

We also have to be honest with ourselves and ask if this is the right place and race and pace for the horse.

Over 1400 metres and we would have been happier.

But, hey, we are armchair critics and that is something easy for everyone to become.

There is always, a “home draw” advantage and 2010 Centaur Stakes winner “Dasher Go Go” is likely to emerge as race favourite in Japan and with horse, jockey and trainer knowing the track like a plate of stale sushi.

Dasher Go Go has the added incentive of collecting the 50 million yen Summer Sprint Series winning bonus if the horse wins the Centaur.

San Carlo is another danger whereas Green Birdie might look as if it has all to do – and it just might.

We’re not writing the eight-year-old off – not when one remembers that effort when it came so close to knocking off Dasher Go Go. Nor are we putting it in.

But, Lucky Nine, we like a great deal along with Japan’s A Shin Rigil and three outsiders in Tokai Mystery, T.M. Otaka and A Shin Whity.

With a fast track being expected, the post time of this year’s Centaur Stakes is 2:35 p.m. (HK Time) on Sunday 11 September, with a field of 15 runners.

Win, lose or draw, it promises to be one helluva race.