Hill's Don Sebastian on staying mission
Don Sebastian is set to finish the season as one of the most improved young stayers in training.
He put in a big effort to win from off a slow pace last time, the form of which has been franked since by Win For Lily's success on Saturday, and his work suggests he's very much on the upgrade.
Last week he was noted putting in a super gallop when, if anything, going better than his stablemate, the leading Class One stayer, Supreme Bases.
Yesterday trainer David Hill, who excels with this slow-maturing staying type, put an 800-metre piece into Don Sebastian which should leave him spot on for this Sunday's big Sha Tin meeting.
Don Sebastian is due to contest the Class Two, 1,800-metre handicap.
He's taking on some better horses but all the signs from his work are that he's more than equal to the jump in grade.
Hill's Toy Symphony is another to keep on the right side on Sunday and he could be at decent odds.
Toy Symphony, normally the most consistent of horses though not a prolific winner, has needed his couple of runs back from a mid-season spell.
Last time he showed he could be poised to return to form when making good late headway, having been ridden back only for the race to be run at a crawl.
In the circumstances he did well to finish so close.
On Sunday he's in a tough Class Three, 1,400-metre handicap but he's just the type who could add value to the tierce or, perhaps, even to the quinella.
Yesterday Hill asked him to work through a steady 1,200 metres in 1:26.0 under his riding boy.
Toy Symphony wouldn't have needed to go any faster and appears to be nearing his peak. He's likely to run into the David Oughton-trained Espresso and Lawrie Fownes' Lynx, both of whom are at the top of their game.
Espresso just failed to hold Alexandra Palace last time with El Viento in third and Lynx a highly creditable fourth.
In truth, Alexandra Palace should have won more comfortably but was blocked for a run halfway down the home straight.
All the same, the first four home probably represent good form and Espresso yesterday clocked a fluent final quarter in 24.2 seconds. He's been working and racing well for some time and looks a leading chance on Sunday.
Lynx notched a 23.9-second final 400 metres and has also put together two decent efforts since dropping to a realistic handicap rating. He's another to consider this weekend.
The two trials on the all-weather surface were both slowly run and probably of little significance except to show that Tony Cruz's classy Horse Of Fame, the comfortable winner of the second heat, is returning from his break in racing in fine shape.