Oughton's newcomer makes presence felt
Trainer David Oughton put a few of his team through their paces in a relatively quiet morning at Sha Tin yesterday and would not have been displeased with some of the efforts produced. Stable jockey Mick Kinane was busy and there was a good solid showing from Class Two performer Qui Vivra Verra, a lightly raced English import who won a Newcastle maiden before export. He may well have been thrown in at the deep end here as his other pre-export efforts at top-grade tracks Newmarket and Sandown were of no account and he has not done much of note in a couple of outings to date. But Qui Vivra Verra seems to be knuckling down to things and went well for Kinane in a stiff hit-out yesterday that produced a smart time of 1:22.1 with the last quarter cut out in a very sharp 23.9. Qui Vivra Verra may have been pushed out but did it gamely enough suggesting that, with time, he could be a decent proposition.
Brian Rouse was aboard My Way who is also finding his Hong Kong feet and went noticeably better, while Plenty Success, with Kinane up, has certainly taken no harm from his last outing when he was narrowly beaten by Pinky Long Legs at Happy Valley. Plenty Success ran good time as did Braveheart, who has shown welcome signs of rediscovering worthwhile form. After an excellent debut run and a fair effort after that, Braveheart descended to the doldrums but ran much better at his last start and that marked improvement has continued at the track. He was clocked yesterday in 1:21.6 (24.1) but it was the manner of his work, much keener and with a real zest, that suggested Braveheart may be freshly enamoured of the game. A number of griffins went against the clock and the progress of Blissful Prospects is worth monitoring. He is being brought along with a good first-up touch in mind and earlier last month ran most encouragingly in a Happy Valley trial.
With Vickie C.W. Choi aboard yesterday, Blissful Prospects looked almost a seasoned campaigner with a sharp run in 52.7. This one is on the right track and so, too, is Smart Dancer who looked more than useful with new apprentice Vincent S. K. Sit on board. The day's only trial produced an interesting winner in Honey Wind who had earlier shown up favourably in a grass trial. Eric Saint-Martin was aboard the youngster, who had absolutely no trouble making all in the small field which eventualy went to the barrier.
Honey Wind clearly has ability and the inevitable greenness is not now so marked, suggesting that a couple more similar outings could have this one in very good tune for a major bid. Honey Wind coasted home to be just under two lengths clear of the Lawrie Fownes-trained Be A Friend with the well-exposed Kwacha finishing third. Trainer Patrick Biancone walked troublesome Gumption round behind the barriers himself and his presence seemed to have the desired effect. The griffin had been taken out at the barrier previously and had generally displayed not the best equine manners. He was certainly not given a hard time in the trial once he jumped and Biancone will obviously be working more on him from this point on.
But he will not be passed to race until satisfactorily completing another trial. Sha Tin dirt trial 1,150 metres: 1, HONEY WIND (E. Saint-Martin); 2, Be A Friend (K. M. So); 3, Kwacha (L. F. Chung). Others: Gumption, Better Fun, Ming Treasure. Time: 1.11.4 (24.7). Distances: 13/4 lengths, 31/2 lengths. Winner trained by Tony Chan Pak-hung.