Yellow River sends out warning signs
Second-season trainer Andy Leung appears to have bought well at last month's International Sale with his $2.7 million son of Afleet, Yellow River, shaping like an almost certain future winner.
Yellow River's purchase price equalled the $2.7 million paid for last season's Select Sale top lot, Saint Tak, who is a son of Australian sire Marscay. Yellow River is an American bred and was the second top lot this time round behind another of Leung's purchases, Cheers Up, who is by Irish River. He went for $3 million and is going to have to be good to be better than Yellow River who looks a natural racehorse.
Yesterday, Yellow River worked under the former top British rider Brian Rouse whose experience is being so wisely tapped into by Leung. Yellow River was in the middle of two stablemates, Oh My Darling and Winford. None of them were asked to run anytime, but it was Yellow River who patently had the most zip of the three.
In fact he was even testing such a wily campaigner as Rouse who was struggling a bit to get him to go slowly enough. This follows a most impressive trial when Yellow River was also ridden by Rouse. Yellow River was a little bit green at the gates on that occasion and was slowly away and took some time to find his stride.
But when he did he sliced through his trial field in the style of a very useful recruit. He will also have learned from that trial and is likely to jump much more smartly next time as he doesn't look a dull-witted horse.
He looks the type to learn quickly and race even more quickly. Champion trainer Ivan Allan introduces a very smart recruit at the weekend in the shape of Oriental Express who will race in the Mr Vitality colours of owner and prominent Jockey Club steward, Larry Yung Chi-kin. Allan searched far and wide to find a potential top-notch private purchase for Yung. Racehorses can make fools of anyone, but in this case all the portends are good.
Oriental Express, formerly trained by Allan's own English trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam, won a 2,000-metre Group Two race in France only to lose it in the stewards' room.
He had earlier run a close second in a mile and a half Group Two contest at Royal Ascot. He trialled promisingly on January 7 and that trial appears to have brought him on as yesterday he looked to work better than stablemate Winning Spirit who is very much back to his old self and set for this weekend's Classic Trial.
Oriental Express is due to run over 1,200 metres. It is a long way short of his best trip, but he has so much quality that he could still sprint well fresh and acclimatise quickly enough to enter the Derby picture.
Allan's Bold Dancer put in an improved effort last time to beat the wayward Allura Red in an incident-packed local riders' race. It was only a Class Five contest, but the way Bold Dancer is progressing in his work, he is more than up to racing competitively in Class Four. He went smoothly with Stellar Express yesterday morning.
There were also two 1,050-metre dirt trials. The first was won well by Lawrie Fownes' first-season import Royal Performance who is surely much better than the form he's shown so far. The second saw a solid effort from Fownes' Sea Jade who is returning from a short break.
SHA TIN DIRT TRIAL RESULTS First trial _ 1,050 metres: 1, ROYAL PERFORMANCE (W. Woods); 2, Alaweo (K. M. So); 3, Aly Baba (M. C. Poon). Others (in finishing order): We Got It, Spring Of Windsor, Jade Promise, Win-Etic, Clean Them Up, Perfect Swing, New Passport, Tactics. Time: 1.03.9 (24.2). Distances: 5 lengths, 11/4 lengths. Winner trained by Lawrie Fownes.
Second trial _ 1,050 metres: 1, SEA JADE (W. Woods); 2, All Happy (M. C. Poon); 3, Make It Easy (H. K. Yim). Others: So So, Canadian Champ, Evasive Tactic, Super Shine, Winning Glory, Kiwi Star, Eastern Saga, Time: 1.03.2 (24.7). Distances: 41/2 lengths, 1 length. Winner trained by Lawrie Fownes.