Good Spirit's sprint a hint of things to come
TONY HARBIDGE (Topspeed)
Favourite-backers will have left Sha Tin on good terms with themselves on Saturday, but with Scrooge-like dividends throughout the afternoon there was precious little to excite the value-conscious punter.
And in the same vein, while there were plenty of solid efforts, the nine-race card lacked a truly outstanding performance to get the pulse racing with expectation.
The most positive pointer came in section two of the Tsung Pak Long Plate, with Good Spirit sprinting the legs off his rivals to clock a winning time of one minute and 10.0 seconds.
The David Hayes-trained youngster completed the 1,200-metre trip a full second faster than Cheers Win had in the previous heat and earned a useful Topspeed rating of 65 to confirm the quality of the run.
Good Spirit has always looked a nice type and went firmly into the notebook after chasing home dual winner Lord Of Warriors over 1,400 metres on his debut.
Drawing well clear of the rest of the field, he returned an encouraging rating of 55 for that first effort and had displayed more than enough speed to suggest he was a future winner over a shorter trip. He failed to confirm that promise next time - running home a bitterly disappointing fifth of seven with a time rating of just 47 - but it's far from uncommon for young inexperienced horses to put in a disappointing second effort and we shouldn't ignore the fact that that race was at Happy Valley.
Back at Sha Tin, Good Spirit firmly put the record straight at the weekend with a fine display of sprinting and should go on from here.
Indy's Gem filled the runner-up spot for the third time in four starts but, although possibly flattered by only a 2.75-length margin of defeat, he returned his best effort to date.
Carrying nine pounds more than the winner, on the bare form the Patrick Biancone-trained griffin actually comes out best at the weights with a Topspeed rating of 67 and will surely be losing his maiden tag before long.
The third home, Win For Lily, is also progressing and clocked another improved rating of 51 to go with the 49 and 41 earned on his previous two starts. Ivan Allan's charge will progress again when taking another step up in trip and should win a race before the season is up.
There were less positives from the opening griffin race with Cheers Win benefiting from a fine ride from the front by Basil Marcus.
Having shown good early speed to get to the front, a sedate middle section of 23.6 second (Good Spirit posted a 22.5 second split) benefited the leader and meant Cheers Win didn't have to run to his previous rating of 67 to notch his second success.
Made To Figure failed to reproduce his debut rating of 70, but given the slow middle sectional time it wasn't that surprising he couldn't overhaul Cheers Win and earned a creditable 62 time figure.