Hayes' Don't Know When shapes encouragingly for first-up tilt
It will be business as usual for the champion duo of trainer David Hayes and jockey Basil Marcus when racing gets under way for the final season of the 20th century at Sha Tin a week tomorrow.
The Australian training ace and his evergreen South African stable jockey have been putting plenty through their paces in the past two weeks and there was a glimpse of an interesting early runner at yesterday's four Sha Tin dirt trials.
Don't Know When is raced by equally evergreen radio personality 'Uncle' Ray Cordeiro who had indifferent luck with his first purchase, We Know When.
Don't Know When does look capable of more than paying his way and was arguably the most interesting triallist of the morning.
Marcus had no intention of knocking the youngster about and he went to the line under a big hold to finish third, having looked most impressive in the process.
Not that the winner of the trial is any slouch - and look to him in early exchanges. Last season's smart juvenile Indian Road made all in the 1,150-metre dash under Freddie Sanchez for Patrick Biancone and this one is ready to make his presence felt.
Indian Road has come out of the summer hiatus extremely well and was smooth as silk in the outing.
Tambora Star, who sneaked home along the rail to finish second, and fourth-placed Little Plaything are well exposed, with the former some sort of a hope in an early dirt engagement.
New trainer Tony Millard has more than 20 horses in work with another half-dozen expected and he should be well represented in the season's opening meetings.
'I am quite happy with the way things have been going. It's different for me. In South Africa you were turning owners away, here you have to find them.
'Quite a number of the string have been going well in their work so I am hopeful that we'll have something early,' he said before watching the well-tried Happy Moment take the final trial of the morning.
Again, Happy Moment is well exposed but the gelding is capable of winning a race from his current mark and looked at ease with himself under Douglas Whyte.
The more interesting run in this trial came from fourth-placed Win Academy who caught the eye in the straight under Eddie W. M. Lai and is clearly being prepared for an early tilt.
Win Academy is good enough on what good judges have seen to date to command respect and those positive views were certainly not bruised by this effort.
One-time top performer Kimber shrugged off a number of indifferent performances when changing stables last season to get back on the winning trail.
He made fairly short work of the morning's second trial when disposing of Winning Boy - a more than fair effort - and Aipoder.
Veteran campaigner Lynx, now with Millard after several seasons with Lawrie Fownes, ran on fairly from midfield and is worth noting following his close-season readjustment. He is still capable of winning a race.
An uninspiring third trial went to Pure Reality, who showed considerable pace but probably less heart in several outings last season. He won for Lai and trainer Gary Ng Ting-keung from Forever Prosperous, who will not be harmed by the outing, and Three Coins.
Yesterday's Sha Tin dirt trials First trial - 1,150m: 1, INDIAN ROAD (F. Sanchez); 2, Tambora Star (S. K. Sit); 3, Don't Know When (B. Marcus). Others (in finishing order): Little Plaything, All Satisfy, Turbojet, Storm Boy, Medic Hero, Sound Gallop, Merry Star, Tremendous Way, On Shan Speedie. Time: 1:10.2 (24.0). Distances: .5 length, 1 length. Winner trained by Patrick Biancone.
Second trial - 1,150m: 1, KIMBER (S. K. Sit); 2, Winning Boy (E. Legrix); 3, Aipoder (B. Marcus). Others: Aggressive Dragon, Happy Champ, Sheer Madness, Satisfaction Smile, Lynx, Danswinner, Authorised, My Friends Say, Winning Again. Time: 1:08.8 (24.5). Distances: 1.5 lengths, 3 lengths. Winner trained by Francis Lui Kin-wai.
Third trial - 1,150m: 1, PURE REALITY (W. M. Lai); 2, Three Coins (E. Legrix); 3, Forever Prosperous (Y. T. Cheng). Others: Winning Smart, Winning Luck, Casa Grande, Chocolate Tycoon, Blazing Sun, Gems, Bank On It, Money Wins. Time: 1:09.8 (25.1). Distances: 1 length, .75 length. Winner trained by Gary Ng Ting-keung.
Fourth trial - 1,150m: 1, HAPPY MOMENT (D. Whyte); 2, Sincerely Yours (R. Fradd); 3, Bold'N Power (G. Boss). Others: Win Academy, The Establishment, Solidarity, Kindred Spirits, Core Principles, Smooth Edge, Money Come-In, Concert Kaiser, Wing's Honour. Time: 1.09.6 (24.9). Distances: 2.5 lengths, .75 length. Winner trained by A. Millard.
Last Friday's dirt trial 1,150m: 1, DEBONAIR (P. H. Tse); 2, Pure Reality (K. S. Yu); 3, Kingston Treasure (W. M. Lai). Others: Mighty And Gold, Happy Fellow, Sure Splendid. Time: 1:13.4 (26.0). Distances: Short head, 1.5 lengths. Winner trained by David Hill.