Gold Cup win no sure guide to Deauville's real potential
Deauville made it two from two since moving to the Tony Cruz camp and his victory in The Hong Kong Gold Cup provided further evidence that the six-time former champion jockey is just as potent an influence as a trainer as he was in the saddle.
However, a wet and windy Sha Tin didn't provide the ideal conditions for the second leg of the 1996-97 Triple Crown, and with little more than a good horse blanket covering the first seven home, initial reaction is that it probably wasn't a particularly outstanding performance from this son of Groom Dancer.
And that initial impression is certainly supported by the relatively ordinary winning time of two minutes and 3.1 seconds, which equates to a Topspeed rating of 76.
To put the merit of the time performance into perspective, this represents the lowest rating from eight starts this campaign and his worst speed figure since running fourth of 12 in Class One last season.
None of that should detract from the fact that Deauville has just won a competitive domestic Group One contest, but the evidence of the clock clearly suggests he didn't have to produce anything more than he had previously to win.
The runner-up, Smashing Pumpkin, did step up on his previous efforts. His work had started to step up a gear in the mornings and this lightly raced youngster returned a much improved 71 time rating, compared to a previous best of just 59.
The admirably game and consistent Privilege predictably made the frame, but the initial fractions of 26.2 and 25.2 seconds ensured that it wasn't going to be the dour slog that Ivan Allan's charge needs to win in this grade.
In recording a speed rating of 75, this was the first time this season since his reappearance over 1,200 metres that Privilege had failed to record a rating in at least the mid-80s. With a couple of 94s and a 99 to his name, this was clearly not his finest hour in terms of a time performance.
Impressive Derby winner Oriental Express disappointed his legion of fans that backed him to such ridiculously skinny odds, but he ran to a 75 here, compared to 78 in the Derby.
Factor in the knowledge that he was tailed-off in his only run on dead ground in Europe and Saturday's exploits don't look quite as bad after all.
With respect to the ground, although the official report was 'good to yielding' the times overall were more akin to simply 'good' ground.
The winds may have contributed to the times, but at the very least they suggest that, despite the criticisms of the sandmesh surface throughout this season, the track held up well at the weekend.
Masternova was one animal that made the going look fast as he clocked a relatively smart one minute and 23.8 seconds when landing section one of the Shau Kei Wan Handicap.
He easily drew 33/4 lengths clear of nearest pursuer, Mr Intermac, and had the rest of the 14-runner field strung out like washing behind, but still earned a useful 60 time figure despite the facile nature of victory.
This is yet another exciting private purchase for the Patrick Biancone yard who, simply on the bare evidence of Saturday's run, will win again.
But, with only two runs under his belt, he has bags of scope for improvement and with the French maestro at the reins, this is one to keep firmly on your side as he works his way up the classes.