Vitality can respond to sprint challenge
MANY of the big names among this season's imports were out and about working strongly during a most revealing session at Sha Tin yesterday morning.
None is a bigger drawcard than the Ivan Allan-trained Mr Vitality who made such a classy debut when powering clear of Debonair in a 1,200-metre event in mid January. Since then a runny nose has kept Mr Vitality out of competition, but he's a horse who clearly goes well fresh and Allan, the champion trainer, is aiming him at the 1,200-metre Sassoon Challenge Cup on April 22.
Mr Vitality was not asked too serious a question yesterday morning as Allan is never one to turn the screw in these morning sessions, especially as he has a programme of three races for the 1994 Golden Slipper fourth and Blue Diamond Stakes runner-up. The other events are the end-of-season sprint championship, the Chairman's Prize, on May 7 followed by the Sha Tin Vase for three-year-olds over a mile on May 20.
Yesterday's work certainly left Allan knowing Mr Vitality is on the way back, but it also showed that he is a little way off his peak. After Mr Vitality had cooled down and had his walk round, Allan commented: 'He's come out of that in fine style. The Sassoon Challenge Cup may be a bit on the short side for him, but he can sprint well fresh and I wouldn't want him to run over more than 1,200 metres on his first start back from a spell.
Generally I'm happy with him.' The main contenders for this weekend's Centurion Trophy have all been out over the past two days, producing work that was hard to fault. Alex Wong Siu-tan's Equine Supremo will not be favoured by the conditions, but he has stacks of improvement in him. He looked an absolute picture on Monday morning while Lawrie Fownes' Group-winning New Zealand import, Cottage View, is improving with each gallop.
He had a sharpness to him yesterday though his work indicates he may not be the easiest of horses to settle. Patrick Biancone's star griffin, Deauville, lengthened clear of his improving stablemate Double Expresso in the closing stages of their grass gallop and is going to give the likes of Hussar a race of it in Saturday's Kukri Trophy when racegoers are in for an enthralling day's sport.
Biancone also sprinted up his Lucky Afleet in readiness for tonight's opening griffin event. The son of Afleet, a good second to Winning Spirit on his debut, answered every question he was posed as he stuck his neck out to shade stablemate Daiquiri who must have a quinella chance in the second. On this showing, Lucky Afleet, has improved and will be very hard to dislodge from the quinella tonight.
He looks spot on. But whether he's good enough to deal with Hot Gossip is another matter. Second-season handler Stephen Leung has his team primed for a real flourish over the final two months of the campaign. After sending out a big team to work exceptionally well yesterday morning, his progressive youngster Flying High oozed class as he sauntered home in the only barrier trial of the day.
Interestingly, he was sporting a visor and given he also had it on at trackwork on Monday morning, it looks likely that he will race in it next time out.