Saint-Martin gets season off and running with trial treble
NOT content with outrunning his fellow riders early in the night, Eric Saint-Martin then proceeded to rack up a 'treble' in last night's opening grass trial session at Sha Tin.
The Frenchman showed his prowess off the horse's back by winning the San Miguel Jockeys' Sprint and then piloted the Tony Cruz-trained Silver Power and Deauville to impressive heat wins later in the evening.
Last-season griffin Silver Power took the third trial in a strong effort and looks to have developed over the summer break. The three-year-old had shown some promise in his initial races, where he appeared to be looking for a trip, and last night he hit the line powerfully after showing good pace in the early stages.
The unraced Just Aqua caught the eye back in the field and would have finished closer except for racing greenly throughout - he should win races for trainer Andy Leung this season.
Golden Bullet was doing his best work at the finish and may even have won the trial if Douglas Whyte had so desired.
Deauville was ridden right to the line to record the narrowest success of the night by a whisker from Supernova in the final trial and Cruz appears to have this former top-liner back to something like his best. It was a good effort from the gelding and he has dropped to an attractive mark in the ratings.
While Deauville and Supernova were fighting out the finish, there were good performances from Strikers, Victory Mount and Good Fortune in behind.
Kowloon Pride showed good pace but was slightly disappointing in the straight and will need to come on a lot from the hitout if he is to be a force in next week's Chief Executive's Cup.
While Saint-Martin was capturing the spotlight, veteran trainer Lawrie Fownes would have left the course a contented man after watching several of his charges trial in impressive fashion.
Fownes sent out five runners, with Winningcombination leading the charge by taking the second batch.
He got to the line stylishly after travelling kindly in midfield and looks fairly forward despite having a good blow after the gallop.
Sweetheart ran on nicely in this heat while Top Light made up good ground from the rear of the field.
Fownes' Born Dragon showed good pace in the third heat and this superbly bred youngster has come on in leaps and bounds from his griffin runs.
Wendyll Woods was kind on the three-year-old in the straight yet he battled away strongly to finish on the placegetters' heels.
And it was a new acquisition from Derek Cruz, Leprechaun, who really took the attention in the fourth heat as he stormed to the line to finish fourth behind Many Happy Returns.
Patrick Biancone's Ho Ho went well to finish second and the experience will improve him as he looked lost when Eric Legrix asked him to finish on at the top of the straight.