Dashing youngsters put best feet forward
TONY HARBIDGE (Topspeed)
Saturday's action at Sha Tin produced the griffin performances of the season with both the Meerut Plate and Kukri Trophy won with performances of true quality.
Orlando Magic was the first to take centre stage. The Geoff Lane-trained youngster has always displayed brilliant natural speed and, quickly tracking across from his outside barrier, was soon travelling sweetly.
Displaying a quality turn of pace when asked, he quickly put daylight between him and his 11 rivals to score as he pleased while clocking a smart Topspeed rating of 61.
He had shaped like a potential smart performer in both placed efforts over the minimum trip, posting progressive speed figures of 36 and 43.
He clearly relished the step up to 1,200 metres at the weekend and is just the type to continue on the upgrade to the top class.
As if not to be outdone, Supernova, who had beaten Orlando Magic on his debut, landed the Group Three Kukri Handicap in similarly impressive style just 30 minutes later.
Fitted with blinkers for the first time, Supernova appreciated the fast pace and showed a rare change of gear to skip clear in the straight.
There is no doubt that he had shaped like a smart recruit on both starts prior to Saturday's race, but with Topspeed ratings of 36 and 39 he was a horse of great potential rather than proven ability and he looked pitched in at the deep end against the likes of Winning Spirit, who appeared to have the race conditions in his favour.
Not that Patrick Biancone ever shirks away from a challenge when he believes he has the amunition to do the job and a comfortable victory with a smart 67 time rating proved the brilliant French handler correct yet again.
Winning Spirit may not have lived up to expectations of his many supporters, but in running second the favourite was far from discredited and at the weights he still comes out the best horse in the race on the bare result.
Indeed, sticking to his task with great courage to stay on past Turf Star after looking beaten at the top of the straight, the Ivan Allan-trained spinter clocked a Topspeed rating of 73, which equates to a six-pound improvement on his previous best time performance. Make no mistake he will be winning more good races and was simply unlucky to come up against such a talented youngster.
Turf Star is all speed and he displayed blistering early pace to cut out the lead. Finding no answer to the winner's turn of foot in the straight and outstayed by Winning Spirit, he returned a six-point inferior effort to his previous win over the same trip, but at the sharper Happy Valley.
The other Group Three contest on the card, The Centurion Trophy, attracted just five runners and as often happens with small fields it was a race run at a moderate gallop, allowing Winning Horse to sprint clear in the straight and score in a relatively disappointing Topspeed rating of 60.
A highly-regarded Irish import, there was almost certainly no fluke about this win but Winning Horse had already clocked a time figure of 64 on his debut. So, this performance told us no more about his overall ability and it has to be said that Citadeed really needs a stronger pace and farther, Super Team may be over the top for the season and Adjareli has shown little.