Great chance to get into Spirit
Successful Spirit can take advantage of the move up to 2,000 metres by taking the eighth event on this afternoon's Sha Tin card, which features a Triple Trio jackpot of more than $20 million.
The Tony Cruz-trained three-year-old may just be a point or two longer than he would otherwise be as he's drawn out in barrier 14. That can make it difficult to get a position in running. In this instance there isn't a glaring amount of speed in the race and Cruz's top-flight stable jockey Felix Coetzee can bounce Successful Spirit out and go forward on him.
The son of Centaine has raced handy on each of his two career starts to date. He battled on really well first time out over 1,400 metres to run a promising third and showed the benefit of that when a fairly comfortable winner over 1,800 metres at Happy Valley last time under the top Australian jockey Brett Prebble. Prebble had to wake him up travelling over the Rock but that is Successful Spirit's lazy style of racing.
The good thing from that Valley win is that he was able to handle the tricky track on just his second career start. It points to a stack of natural ability and also an ability to learn quickly. Since then Successful Spirit has shown more zip and zest in his work, seeming to underline that the Valley race has brought him on considerably both mentally and physically.
What's more, the handicapping department has not over-reacted to Successful Spirit's last-start win, raising him just seven pounds for his defeat of Simon's Decision and Sound Gallop. Prebble was adamant after his win on him in one of the races in the International Jockeys' Series that here was a horse almost certain to stay well and progress considerably over the next 12 months or so.
The biggest danger may come from the Tony Millard-trained Goldchin Best, who has been crying out for a move to 2,000 metres. He's done well physically since moving to Millard and can strip much fitter this afternoon following a pipe-opener over a woefully short 1,000 metres at the Valley last time. Since then Goldchin First has also been burning down the Sha Tin worktracks in company with the likes of the normally excellent worker Happy Momentum.
Of the others, Rainbow And Gold is a lot better than he showed when badly ridden at Happy Valley last time, while Wonderful Winners could pop up again at big odds if ridden quietly. Strategic Move is in peak form and Sea Pearl seems back to himself. Satisfaction Smile, well handicapped on his best form, is in there with a definite tierce hope.
Wishes, who should have won by a comfortable length or so last time out, looks a sound TT banker in the third event, which opens the world's best bet.
Last time out Wishes just failed to catch the improving Global Runner and can be rated a winner without a penalty. Jockey Eric Saint-Martin had him smothered up on the inside in mid-division. Wishes was jogging and just needing a chink of daylight so that the Frenchman could produce him with his race-winning run. None appeared until it was far too late but Wishes flew to the line only to fail by a head to catch Global Runner.
The David Hayes-trained Twinkling Star, the first Japanese-bred to race here, and the Derek Cruz-trained Huang Pu Jiang look the most forward for today's opening griffin event of the season.