Right Way best of a bad bunch
TONY HARBIDGE (Topspeed)
The opening day of the season may have gone off ith a bang as far as record betting turnover went, but it fell flat regarding a time performance of any note.
The highest winning rating fell to Village Bard in the 1,400-metre Shenzhen Handicap, but a Topspeed rating of only 51 is nothing to write home about, and it was not a performance which pointed to future betting opportunities.
As is often the case with horses who have bleeding problems, the six-year-old has already shown he goes best fresh, clocking a rating of 56 on his first start last season before three efforts of 22, 0 and 16.
If there is anything worth noting from this heat, the figures suggest it may be runner-up Indian Chetak.
The David Hill-trained sprinter/miler has proved one of the most consistent performers in training, but needed a couple of runs before hitting form last campaign.
This time round, an initial time figure of 47 represents a four-point better performance than his best effort last season, and suggests he may yet be capable of the 59 achieved when scoring two seasons ago.
The best raw-time figure on Sunday was returned by Right Way, who finished third under topweight in division one of the Kwangtung Handicap Cup.
But relative to class the 1,400-metre contest comes out as one of the slowest of the day. Right Way clocked a figure of 55, compared to his best of 85 last season, while winner Enthusiasm earned a time rating of just 44. He too has an 80 to his name, albeit from two campaigns ago.
No apologies if all this seems on the negative side, that's simply the way the figures panned out - and it is just as important to recognise possibly flattering results as those efforts suggesting better things to come.
The final event on the nine-race card is certainly one to treat cautiously, with Red Jeans scoring in a desperately slow one minute and 24.1 seconds, equating to a Topspeed rating of only 38.
It is not that Red Jeans isn't a highly talented individual; after all, he simply bolted up and could certainly have won by farther, but the four-year-old has had a few problems since clocking 77 in his Griffin year, and Sunday's effort did little to confirm his readiness to fulfil that early promise.
Wendyll Woods provided one of the few positive notes for future gambles. Most British punters would probably describe Woods as a solid journeyman jockey but, with 31 wins from just 261 rides this season, he simply lacked the opportunities to make the top flight in Britain.
A treble on his first meeting back in the territory clearly stamps him as a pilot to keep on your side. And Satisfaction Plus not only provided Woods with the opening leg of his treble in the Xinhui Handicap, but also recorded the best time performance of the afternoon relative to class.
Showing the benefit of a change of stables, Satisfaction Plus was always up with the pace and scored going away in 58.4 seconds.
That time equates to a speed figure of 46, which suggests the Lawrie Fownes-trained veteran may be one who is over his problems and could soon be up to winning again.