Fastplus Hero moving on the right path
It will be more than a year between starts for Fastplus Hero when he finally makes his local debut, but the Derek Cruz-trained four-year-old showed he is progressing well with a slick turf trial at Sha Tin on Tuesday.
Raced as Adjourned in New Zealand, the then three-year-old won his 1,200m maiden in fine fashion last April, skipping to a three-length victory at Awapuni after jockey Jonathan Riddell settled just behind the pace in the run.
That gave Fastplus Hero a rating of 67 and the gelding was originally prepared by David Hall. Fastplus Hero showed good pace in both trials for Hall, but owners transferred the horse to Cruz and the promising type has continued to move in the right direction.
A half-brother to Perfect Style, who won four races for Caspar Fownes and whose rating climbed as high as 109, Fastplus Hero has the sort of pedigree that suggests he could be a solid campaigner.
Mark du Plessis was on board in the 800m heat, the sprinter bouncing straight to the front and doing it easy through the middle stages, the rider never releasing his grip.
Multiple straight-track winner Ultimate Winners (Brett Prebble) provided a good reference as he travelled a length behind Fastplus Hero and then challenged late. Du Plessis loosened the reins a touch in the last 100m to ensure he held a half-length margin at the line.
The time of 45.88 was by far the fastest of the morning, comparing favourably to speedy Aashiq's trial win earlier (46.42).
Fat Choy Oohlala (Zac Purton) was kept up to the mark in the opening 1,000m batch, galloping under a hold until the final 200m and then finishing off strongly. His stablemate, promising new recruit Fat Choy Hong Kong (Purton), also produced a tidy workout.
In an 800m trial for mainly unraced two- and three-year-old griffins, Tony Millard's Tayside showed tremendous early speed. The two-year-old by Bernadini has an older half-brother doing good things in Australia, but Millard's precocious galloper still needs to strengthen up after fading in the closing stages of his trial.
Danny Shum Chap-shing's President Lincoln (Purton) is an 85-rated stayer from New Zealand - a burly customer who will need some solid groundwork.
The three-year-old won two from three at home, but hasn't raced since winning the Wellington Guineas last October. In his third trial, he looked a touch fresh early but was punched right to line at the end of his 1,600m turf hit-out.
Jade Christy has been disappointing since a headline-grabbing straight-track win on debut in November, but may find a new lease of life on the dirt if Tuesday's dynamic display is anything to go by.
The Danehill Dancer three-year-old zipped through his 1,050m all-weather track trial in a super fast 1.00.17, beating home surface-specialist Dynamic Blitz (1.00.79). With a rating that has dropped to 58, a Class Four sprint at the all-dirt meeting at Sha Tin next Wednesday seems at Jade Christy's mercy if he draws a gate.
Yesterday's dirt trials were the final stepping stone for a trio of horse's aimed at the ATV Cup (1,600m - rated 120-95).
Caspar Fownes-trained Let Me Handle It (Olivier Doleuze) looked the best of them, after his usual reluctance to load, striding out nicely to beat two horses he is likely to face next Saturday - Penglai Xianzi (Matthew Chadwick) and Familists (Derek Leung Ka-chun).
The five-year-old, who hasn't raced since March, rattled home in good style to win after settling near the rear in the eight-horse trial.
This is the mark the Derek Cruz-trained Fastplus Hero will start his Hong Kong campaign on