Oriental Pearl in control despite late trial scare
John Size's Oriental Pearl left no doubt that he is one of the most promising young horses in Hong Kong at yesterday's Sha Tin trials despite giving his rider a scare in the final 100 metres.
The unraced three-year-old went through the opening all-weather barrier trial hard on the bridle in the lead the entire way, but nevertheless established an eight-length lead by the 200 metres under Dwayne Dunn.
As Dunn continued to keep a tight hold on the gelding in the closing stages, Oriental Pearl found something ahead of him on the track and suddenly leaped in the air with 70 metres to run.
His surprised jockey virtually walked the horse past the post after that hiccup but Oriental Pearl still won by 3.5 lengths and will be a red-hot favourite the day he is produced for his debut.
Behind him, stablemate Prime Vain (Shane Dye) produced a worthwhile effort in fourth place. He looked a likely early winner for Size at the start of the season before having to undergo surgery after a severe bout of colic but seems to have come through the experience intact.
Prime Vain was a long way off the pack turning for home but finished with serious enthusiasm in the last 200 metres under very little urging from Dye.
The second heat was won by Danhero (Weichong Marwing), but Ricky Yiu Poon-fie's three-year-old was pushed to the line and did not impress in beating Victory Master and Common Place, both of whom trialled usefully.
But again it was the Size runners who looked the ones to follow, with Koh-I-Noor (ninth), Lucky Trio (sixth) and last-start bleeder Decouvert (seventh) all doing their job comfortably without being extended.
Koh-I-Noor was seven lengths behind the second-last horse, Decouvert, turning into the straight but made very good ground on that horse in the final 100 metres despite the fact that Decouvert himself was finishing off strongly without pressure. Koh-I-Noor caught the eye at his first race for Size and looks to have come on since.
Made To Figure, who has had a disappointing season, led throughout for Douglas Whyte to win the final heat in fair fashion, although runner-up Born Dragon (Anton Marcus) impressed chasing him home and looks to be in good form.
Size has now taken over training Best Of The Best from Wong Tang-ping, who is due to retire next month, and the former star sprinter ran just an even trial in fifth placeafter being allowed to find his own speed and drifting back in the middle stages.
SHA TIN TRIAL RESULTS
First trial _ 1,050m (dirt): 1, ORIENTAL PEARL (D. Dunn); 2, Shanghai Friend (H. K. Yim); 3, Super Success (W. C. Marwing). Others (in finishing order): Prime Vain, Manor Star, Winning Associates, Forte, Wealth Star. Time: 1:02.9 (24.4). Distances: 3.5 lengths, 1 length. Winner trained by John Size.
Second trial _ 1,050m (dirt): 1, DANHERO (W. C. Marwing); 2, Victory Master (K. W. Tsui); 3, Common Place (C. Williams). Others (in finishing order): Ascot Fans, Fast Track, Lucky Trio, Decouvert, Mr Hector, Koh-I-Noor, Glorious Victory. Time: 1:03.1 (24.3). Distances: Neck, neck. Winner trained by Ricky Yiu.
Third trial _ 1,050m (dirt): 1, MADE TO FIGURE (D. Whyte); 2, Born Dragon (A. Marcus); 3, Eastern Purple (S. K. Sit). Others (in finishing order): Namjong Spirit, Best Of The Best, Colourful Era, Ever Glory, Happy Momentum, Chiu Chow Brother. Time: 1:02.1 (23.6). Distances: 1.5 lengths, 1.75 lengths. Winner trained by David Oughton.