Fine showing earns Keen Talent high rating
TONY HARBIDGE (Topspeed)
Keen Talent produced the top time performance of last week when lowering the Class Two 1,800-metre record in Division Two of the Chater Divided Handicap at Sha Tin on Saturday.
True, the winning times in general were slick throughout the afternoon and once again those responsible for the official going failed to reflect the true nature of the Sha Tin turf, offering a palpably inaccurate 'good to firm' going report when the track was clearly riding firm.
Even so, in skipping home in one minute and 47.7 seconds there is little doubt the Patrick Biancone-trained galloper produced a smart performance and that is amply reflected in a quality Topspeed rating of 74.
With four wins under his belt from just eight starts in the territory, Keen Talent has already done connections proud in this ultra competitive environment and, although this latest effort represented a 16-point improvement on his previous best, he gave every indication he can progress yet further.
But, while Keen Talent is clearly one to keep close tabs on, don't forget those in behind. As a form pointer this race should prove rock solid.
Runner-up Best Eagle has yet to get his head in front in 12 starts but Saturday's run earned his second speed rating of 63 in as many runs and will surely go one better soon.
River Dance ran third and a time figure of 72 was only a pound inferior to his previous winning effort. Having only his fourth run, he is another entitled to progress with more experience.
With 19 runs to his name, fourth-placed Golden Duke is a far more exposed individual, but he, too, underlined the merit of the race by clocking 62 compared to his previous best of 60.
For an example of when a track record can only serve to mislead we only have to look at last Wednesday's night meeting at Happy Valley.
Supreme Universe was well ridden to come from off the pace to beat Nansen in the 2,400-metre Quarry Bay Handicap and his winning time of two minutes and 32.7 seconds cut the previous best by a whopping 0.9 seconds.
But, with the first six home all dipping under the old record, it shouldn't take a genius to realise this wasn't the outstanding time performance that it may have appeared at first sight.
First instinct is to blame fast going but in this case that would simply mislead further. The surface at the City track has shown a consistent pattern of degradation through a meeting all season.
If last week's track record was a product of fast ground, then that would suggest the much-criticised sandmesh surface held up well that evening. Of course, it didn't.
Truth is, Supreme Universe and the rest were simply beating a very poor track record at a trip that has seen very few races and basically none of any real quality.
This was only the seventh race over 2,400 metres since Happy Valley was redesigned and the single Classes Two and Three contest being the highest grade, three of the races were Classes Four and Five.
In the event, the going was no better than 'good' from the off last Wednesday and by the time of the sixth race the surface was actually riding no faster than the equivalent of 'good to soft'.
Supreme Universe is actually credited with a Topspeed rating of 51. A figure that is by no means terrible, but is some 14 points off his best and suggests this was not a record-breaking performance to get excited about.