More proof that Class of '97 is a winner
TONY HARBIDGE (Topspeed)
It is always exciting when a proven classy older horse is imported, but the foundation of any overall improvement in the quality of the Thoroughbred population in the territory lies with the continuous upgrading of each year's griffin intake.
And, judged on what we have seen so far from the Class of '97, we have a rock-solid base on which to build. We have been treated to exciting prospect after exciting prospect throughout the season and in the Kwu Tung Plate on Saturday, Danswinner was another youngster to produce a performance that simply oozed class.
Sure, it was a day of fast times at Sha Tin, but still that Danswinner could win in such impressive style and clock 57.0 seconds for the 1,000-metre trip leaves no doubt that this is another high-class recruit.
Under the conditions, a winning time of 57 flat equates to a Topspeed rating of 76. To put that into better perspective, it ranks the second-best time performance achieved in a griffin race, behind Born To Win on a very classy 83 but ahead of the likes of Kimber (75), Enginman (74) and Victory Mount (72).
There is no doubt Danswinner had already given notice that he was a classy racehorse in the making. His debut second was clearly promising, but a time figure of 28 certainly wasn't anything to write home about and the real clues came when he returned an improved Topspeed rating of 45 finishing fourth to Victory Mount on the back of an interrupted preparation.
Clearly he is a progressive type and this weekend's success was surely just a stepping stone to betting things.
Indeed, it is a race that should pay to follow. A debut time rating of 57 stamps Happy Boy as a winner waiting to happen, while Billion Win (52) left his first-time-out effort behind and, if not given an unduly hard race, will pay his way, especially when stepped up in trip.
It is difficult to be confident about the sectional times returned under the current manual system employed by the Jockey Club.
As the horses pass each 400-metre marker a light prompts a Jockey Club official to activate the timing mechanism and the only automated aspect of the operation is at the start and finish of the race.
In short, the overall time is accurate, but the sectionals are dependent on the reaction time of a button-presser.
The Jockey Club is evaluating several options for an accurate electronic sectional timing system and they may now be able to call on the executive of Newmarket racecourse for some advice.
The wiring work for a similar system as used in Formula One motor racing has now been completed at the headquarters of British racing and the first tests are planned for the meeting on May 31, with the aim of the system to be up and running properly for the autumn season at the Rowley Mile course.