Running away from home worth effort
Hong Kong racing got a lift from the performances of its runners in Melbourne last Saturday, giving real proof that they will be competitive. But 'competitive' carries a few provisos.
Able Choice, for instance, performed well enough against a good field of Melbourne three-year-olds in the Ascot Vale Stakes. Good enough to suggest that he is right at home in that company - and smart company it is - when things break for him in running.
Whether that is good enough to do better than a first five or six finish in the Caulfield Guineas remains to be seen. The races are not going to get easier.
Sydney form is generally a touch better than that in Melbourne and Thorn Park, the standout three-year-old in Sydney, was not there on Saturday. Most likely he and a few youngsters from Sydney will be out on Guineas day.
Likewise, Helene Vitality's Craiglee Stakes run was full of potential, but he too will find the races filling up with talent. A different case, because his aim is a handicap rather than level terms, he nevertheless will have to keep on the way he has started.
Hong Kong owners can take encouragement in knowing that there is no great gulf between here and the established world order, but the difficulty is going to be bringing about this kind of competition on a regular basis.
Helene Vitality and Able Choice are dipping their toes in the water with great promise but until more toes are going into more ponds, such campaigns are going to keep feeling like experiments rather than the norm.