The progressive Red Zone and the unraced but exciting Vigoroso emerged as two to follow from yesterday's five-heat trial session down Sha Tin's 1,000-metre chute.
The Bruce Hutchison-trained Red Zone won a couple of races in exciting fashion last season and still appears to be ahead of the handicapper.
Yesterday he came from mid-division in a fairly strong 10-runner heat to win by a head and the same from Andy Leung Ting-wah's Colourful Era and Patrick Biancone's recent acquisition On Fire who is, himself, improving under the Frenchman's care.
Red Zone has needed his runs so far this season but seemed to have been working with more zip and zest prior to yesterday's trial which looked to confirm those earlier trackwork impressions.
On Fire has been a difficult horse to train but like so many that change stables he appears to have thrived for the change.
Brian Kan's private purchase Mr Winner ran fifth in this opening heat. He has been working and trialling nicely, improving bit by bit as he acclimatises and gets fitter and he certainly looks capable of winning races for Kan.
Geoff Lane's private purchase griffin, Vigoroso, has been impressing in the mornings for some time. Yesterday he showed good natural speed, travelling in second Easy Way who made all to take the fourth heat.
David Hayes' Red In Green ran last on debut at Happy Valley but as one noted judge remarked: 'It's the best last I've seen all season.' The point is that Red In Green, a half-brother to Lawrie Fownes' useful and consistent Inventor, is already looking for around a mile and he absolutely charged to the line at the Valley. He ran fifth in yesterday's second trial and is worth keeping tabs on as he moves up in distance.
David Hill's Blue Imperial, who ran much better at Happy Valley last time and was out the back in this second heat, is another to watch out for now he's finally come down to a more competitive rating.
Hayes' unraced Express Lot showed promise in the third heat in which Peter Ho's potential Class One stayer, Rugby Supreme, made good ground. Ho appears to have taken Kieren Fallon off Rugby Supreme which is a bold move as the likes of Fallon are usually better to have riding for you than against you.
SHA TIN GRASS TRIALS First trial _ 1,000m: 1, RED ZONE (D. Whyte); 2, Colourful Era (B. Rouse); 3, On Fire (E. Legrix). Others (in finishing order): Triumphant Smile, Mr Winner, Monza, Spring, Oakland Hills, Astimonti, Supreme Bases. Time: 1:00.0 (22.9). Distances: head, head. Winner trained by Bruce Hutchison.
Second trial _ 1,000m: 1, EXCEL KID (C. T. Cheng); 2, Hong Kong Legend (W. M. Lai); 3, New Gimmicks (S. King). Others: Hong Kong Vitality, Red In Green, Seven Castles, Gagne Ensemble, Markgraf, Blue Imperial, Chateau Royale, All My Love, Golden Boy. Time: 1:00.4 (23.1). Distances: 2.5 lengths, 2.75 lengths. Winner trained by John Moore.
Third trial _ 1,000m: 1, LOOK WHO'S ANGEL (F. Coetzee); 2, Palette Treasure (C. K. Tsang); 3, Authorised (S. King). Others: Cool Running, Express Lot, Paradise Chase, Rugby Supreme, Cool Strike, Win Perfection, Majesty, Super Contact, Crown Regent. Time: 1:02.5 (24.5). Distances: half length, head. Winner trained by Eddie Lo Kwok-chow.
Fourth trial _ 1,000m: 1, EASY WAY (W. M. Lai); 2, Vigoroso (M. Hills); 3, Mr Happy (S. King). Others: Wintel, Highball, T198, Typhoon, Add More, Homerun, Lucky Afleet. Time: 1:00.4 (23.2). Distances: 2 lengths, 2 lengths. Winner trained by Cheung Ting-pong.
Fifth trial _ 1,000m: 1, KINGSTON TREASURE (W. M. Lai); 2, Amza Darling (K. S. Yu); 3, Dull Lead (S. King). Others: Keep On Going, Metro Traveller, Charming City, Tea For Gentlemen, No Collateral, Manor Star, Best Gain, T211. Time: 1:00.4 (23.3). Distances: 4 lengths, neck. Winner trained by Gary Ng Ting-keung.