Naturally Money sets Valley alight
Many trackwatchers would have got an early Christmas present when Naturally Money (right) saluted at Happy Valley in the middle of last month.
And it is short odds that many will parlay their winnings when the Andy Leung-trained galloper next steps out if they witnessed the three-year-old's barrier trial yesterday.
It may have been the last trial of the morning, but the youngster's blistering speed set Happy Valley alight as he quickly established a four-length break on his rivals over the 1,000-metre scamper before they reached the Rock.
Brett Doyle steadied him as they rounded the home turn and despite being wide on the track, he went to the line with a lot in reserve as he comfortably held off a hard-ridden Win For Us in fast time.
It is doubtful there are any faster horses over the first 100 metres racing in Hong Kong at the moment and if Leung can find a suitable race in the coming weeks, he looks the bet of the season.
The Lawrie Fownes-trained Win For Us jumped on terms with the field and did well to finish only a neck behind the flying Naturally Money after giving him a big start as they straightened.
While these two were impressive, Joy Mass caught the eye with his finishing effort into third spot and the lightly raced son of Marscay is one to keep tabs on.
The Leung stable has been experiencing a little more luck in recent weeks after a quiet start to the season and the yard took the opening heat with Honest Dragon over the 1,650-metre trip.
Honest Dragon has been a disappointment to date but there was plenty of merit in his finishing effort to take the trial from Dancing Spirit and Mr Happy and he is well up to winning a race off his present mark - his work has been showing signs of improvement.
Fownes looks to have a handy recruit in Dancing Spirit, a Private Purchase four-year-old with solid form in France.
He stretched out in good style for Wendyll Woods after showing plenty of speed and it will be a surprise if he doesn't win his share of races.
Mr Happy trialled well recently and he had winner written all over him as he went to the line under a strong hold for Steven King.
Championship leader Tony Cruz was only lightly represented but his quality five-year-old Medic Pearl went nicely to lead all the way and take the second batch from Cool Strike.
Cool Strike is an unraced griffin in the Leung yard and his name would have gone into a few notebooks as he did a good job to get within a half-length of the winner. He tracked Medic Pearl throughout and was not put under any pressure to hold his position in the straight.
Derek Cruz's pair Kowloon's Blessing and Fame And Wealth ran on under riding to finish close-up and both showed enough to indicate they will be winning, albeit later in the season.
While the Fownes yard produced a promising newcomer in Dancing Spirit, fingers will be crossed that one of the stable's stars, the long-striding Rangeela, comes through his trial in flying colours.
He has had his share of problems this season but looked well in himself as he chased Privilege to the line in the third heat - Woods gave him a good sound-out and Rangeela responded admirably to only finish a length astern on the line.
HAPPY VALLEY GRASS TRIALS First trial _ 1,650m: 1, HONEST DRAGON (B. Rouse); 2, Dancing Spirit (W. Woods); 3, Mr Happy (S. King). Others (in finishing order): Outstanding Lad, Double Expresso, Nazakat's Joy, Sir Lancelot, Gran Senorum, Money Come-In. Time: 1:46.9 (25.2). Distances: 1 length, 1 length. Winner trained by Andy Leung Ting-wah.
Second trial _ 1,200m: 1, MEDIC PEARL (E. Saint-Martin); 2, Cool Strike (B. Doyle); 3, Kowloon's Blessing (F. Coetzee). Others: Fame And Wealth, City Fortune, Win For Lily, Chiu Shan Glory, National Pride. Time: 1:14.2 (25.9). Distances: .5 length, 1 length. Winner trained by Tony Cruz.
Third trial _ 1,200m: 1, PRIVILEGE (D. Whyte); 2, Rangeela (W. Woods); 3, Speedy Forward (W. M. Lai). Others: Blue Imperial, Victory Way, Sky's The Limit, High Degree, Astral Moon. Time: 1:13.5 (26.0). Distances: 1 length, short head. Winner trained by Ivan Allan.
Fourth trial _ 1,200m: 1, SUPER BOY (W. M. Lai); 2, Time Jet (F. Coetzee); 3, Hero's Choice (D. Whyte). Others: Perfect Combo, Super Missile, Super Fortune, Natural Classic, Ever Triumph. Time: 1:13.6 (25.5). Distances: neck, .75 length. Winner trained by Peter Ho.
Fifth trial _ 1,000m: 1, NATURALLY MONEY (B. Doyle); 2, Win For Us (W. Woods); 3, Joy Mass (S. King). Others: Giant, Heart Of Gold, Sir Timah, Optical Family, Prosperous Dynasty, Concert Kaiser. Time: 0:59.3 (25.2). Distances: neck, 2 lengths. Winner trained by Andy Leung Ting-wah.