Man Of Honour destined for a run to the top
TONY HARBIDGE (Topspeed)
One performance from last week stands out head and shoulders above the rest.
It came in the opening griffin race at Sha Tin on Sunday with Man Of Honour producing a scintillating display of natural speed to clock an excellent 57.60 seconds for the 1,000-metre trip.
Easing 4.75 lengths clear of Whytellyou, with the others strung out behind like a bunch of fairground donkeys, there was almost certainly no real strength in depth to this field, but nothing can take away from the hard evidence of the clock.
His winning time equates to a Topspeed rating of 76.
That is a top-notch griffin performance by any standards. However, considering the ease of victory and the fact it was his debut run, it was a time performance that suggests we witnessed a potentially exceptional animal taking his first public strides at the weekend.
First, let's put the bare time figure into better perspective: quite simply, a rating of 76 ranks the best time performance in a griffin race this season and in the previous three campaigns that level has only been bettered twice.
Born To Win earned a Topspeed rating of 83 last season, but that was on the last of his four starts, while it also took Red Jeans four outings to earn a figure of 77 in 1995.
Nothing in the past four seasons has produced a first-up effort in a griffin race as good as Man Of Honour.
And none of that takes into account the ease of victory. Man Of Honour really couldn't have won in better style, appearing to win with not one but several gears in hand, and on this evidence the Ivan Allan-trained youngster is destined for the very top.
In all the euphoria it would be easy to forget the runner-up.
Yes, Whytellyou couldn't live with Man Of Honour but he did pull 5.75 lengths clear of his nearest pursuer and completed the straight sprint in a time 0.10 of a second faster than Footprints in the next heat, earning a speed figure of 61.
That's a useful rating in its own right for a first-up effort and Patrick Biancone should not have any problems winning races with this one.
In the Group Three Sha Tin Futurity Trophy, Indigenous displayed the superior turn of foot to get the better of Johan Cruyff, but modest Topspeed ratings of 77 and 74 for the front two confirm the sit and sprint nature of the race.
The early sectionals really were slow - 25.4 and 24.1 seconds compared to 24.6 and 23.3 in the previous Class Three contest - and the shape of the race certainly wouldn't have suited the runner-up.
At a lower level, Golden Phoenix looks a staying type to keep tabs on.
Comprehensively outstaying his rivals in Sunday's 2,000-metre Movie Channel Handicap, he clocked a Topspeed rating of 53, the same rating as when running second on the sand over 2,400 metres.