Millard serves up feasts for future
Stable changes have been a staple of the punting diet in Hong Kong for many seasons.
Long-serving trainer Lawrie Fownes is the standing dish as far as this little system goes but the stable of first-season trainer, the South African Tony Millard, is throwing up an increasing amount of tasty morsels.
Yesterday Millard trained the first four home in the second of two all-weather trials at Sha Tin.
It doesn't quite compare with the legendary former British jumps trainer Michael Dickinson, who saddled the first five home in the Cheltenham Gold Cup which is Britain's premier chase.
Dickinson has since gone on to Breeders' Cup glory and International Race controversy with Da Hoss.
Incidentally, the recently retired Graham Bradley, one of the jumping greats and rider of the winner Bregawn for Dickinson during his Gold Cup triumph is due to come through Hong Kong in the near future and would make a great interview subject for his old weighing-room mucker, Mark Richards.
More immediately, Millard's Invincible General, Victory Way and Time Well - the first three home in that second heat yesterday - are well worth following.
They could also be at a shade of odds when first seen out as their form had dipped considerably before moving to Millard.
Indeed in Invincible General's case his form has never been in anything other than a trough.
But he's always shown a bit of speed and that has become a whole lot of zip since making the short hop across the Sha Tin stabling complex.
Yesterday he gradually picked his way through his trial field under Eddie Lai to win by a couple of lengths from Victory Way. The latter had a smattering of form last season but this campaign his form so far has been nothing short of abysmal.
Millard is reminiscent of the impact that Patrick Biancone made when he first came here for the start of the 1990-91 season.
He improved a couple of low-grade performers by leaps and bounds - the likes of Cloud Nine and Good Fellow were his first and third winners as a Hong Kong-based handler and they both came in Class Six events. Prior to racing for Biancone they had next to no form.
The way Invincible General and Victory Way have been shaping, they could follow a similar pattern for Millard, who looks destined to make a major impact over the next few seasons.
Time Well briefly led before running home third to Invincible General and has been looking a lot happier in himself since joining Millard and is another who has plummeted in the ratings.
Geoff Lane's Romantic Venture ran fifth. His work suggests he remains at the top of his game.
Alex Wong Siu-tan's dirt-loving Bold'N Power made all to take the first heat but is now very exposed in the ratings as evidenced by his last-start unplaced effort.
In other work yesterday there was a strong piece from John Moore's well-bred Island West Treble in readiness for the first section of Saturday's Class Four 1,400-metre handicap.
Island West Treble ran much better than his work or trials indicated he would when running on strongly for second on debut down the straight 1,000-metre chute.
His work appears to have picked up significantly and yesterday's 1,200-metre hitout in 1:20.1 under Robbie Fradd augurs well for his chances this weekend.