Man Of Honour erases any lingering doubts
Man Of Honour went a long way to restoring his reputation as one of the territory's potential stars for next season with a smooth victory in the Argonaut Plate at Sha Tin last Saturday.
On his debut, Ivan Allan's young sprinter had produced a scintillating display of natural speed to clock a Topspeed rating of 76.
That level of speed figure rated the best debut performance in a griffin race over the past four seasons and considering the ease of victory it immediately stamped him as a potentially exceptional animal in the making.
Next time out, though, he proved the disappointment of the season, trailing in third to Fast Win at odds of 1-10 over the same 1,000-metre strip that had witnessed such a brilliant display of raw speed just a fortnight earlier.
For that dismal effort Man Of Honour earned a time figure of just 49 but in truth that was an unsatisfactory race for more than just the flop of such a strong favourite.
There has been some profound track bias over the season and variations in ground conditions from one part of the course to the other is far from unknown.
But, two weeks ago, the straight 1,000-metre course was made up of two different surfaces. The turf was visibly cutting up in the chute, while it was riding good to firm on the course proper according to all the other winning times that day.
So was that a contributing factor to his disappointing second-up run? Possibly.
Clearly, from Saturday's result we know the horse goes on a soft surface as there was plenty of cut in the ground by the time the seventh heat came around. But he may not have enjoyed that shift from soft to good to firm in his previous start and at the very least the conditions favoured the front-running winner Fast Win.
Maybe Man Of Honour's flop was simply a classic case of the so-called 'bounce syndrome', when a bad run follows a good debut start or a run after a long lay-off.
Again he didn't reproduce that debut effort at the weekend but a Topspeed rating of 66 for a .75-length defeat of Faithful Assurance (55) is confirmation that Man Of Honour is a force for the future. The lingering question marks revolve around why the stewards haven't seen fit to inquire into the running of Man Of Honour.
Punter confidence is everything and when such a strong odds-on favourite disappoints an inquiry should be a matter of course.
There doesn't have to be a hint of wrongdoing, the betting public should be entitled to answers as to why a horse ran badly.
Had connections been quizzed, those answers may simply have been that he didn't enjoy the change in ground conditions and/or the race came too soon and he subsequently gave signs of feeling the effects of his strong debut run. But, as it is, the people who fund this multi-billion dollar industry are left guessing in the dark.