Aashiq ready for late-season fling
Aashiq may have gone off the boil of late, but Friday's only 1,200m all-weather track trial at Sha Tin indicated he is ready to turn his form around.
The Paul O'Sullivan-trained six-year-old, the highest-rated runner in the heat, came out running for Mark du Plessis and kept up a strong gallop to win by a solid 21/4 lengths, with Tony Cruz's Prolific Champion (Matthew Chadwick) making some late headway to finish an eye-catching second.
Aashiq failed miserably, finishing 11th, in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup (1,400) behind Lucky Nine on March 4 and was forced to trial to the satisfaction of the stewards - and he didn't let them down.
It was the speedy gelding's second trial, with the first being on May 8 over the Sha Tin 800m. He blitzed his rivals then and has since been coming along nicely in his workouts.
O'Sullivan will surely be pleased by his horse's preparation and will be aiming at the Group Three Prince Jewellery & Watch Premier Cup over 1,400m on June 17, where Aashiq finished second two seasons back.
On a busy morning at Happy Valley yesterday, some smart youngsters were given a chance to show what they are capable of - and they didn't disappoint the trial watchers with some nice moves.
John Size's Gamekeepers, with Du Plessis, and Tony Millard's Uwillbeglorious, ridden by Andreas Suborics, caught the eye with strong displays in the third heat over 1,200m.
Gamekeepers was given a rest following a last-start flop in January and the break seems to have strengthened him up well.
The three-year-old travelled smoothly throughout and wasn't pressured to win, while second-placegetter Uwillbeglorious ran under his own steam and it looks like the New Zealand-bred four-year-old is getting the hang of things now.