High Intelligent on fast track to Derby
The victory of John Size's High Intelligent in the Chinese Club Challenge Cup (race 290) marked him down as a legitimate contender for this year's Derby and the trainer must have been particularly pleased with the way he accounted for some class opposition over 1,400 metres.
In hindsight, by missing the International meeting he arguably had the best preparation of any runner in the line-up-and it clearly showed.
He appears to have come back this preparation even better, and should be open to even more improvement. The fact he finished fourth to Ain't Here in the Asia's World City Cathay Pacific International Cup trial already confirms he can stay the Derby distance (2,000 metres).
In addition, not too much should be read into the sub-standard performance from favourite Scintillation, who finished ninth. His recent work hadn't been up to scratch and, like so many well fancied runners who competed on International day, he failed to live up to expectations.
The last big race took quite a bit out of him and he, along with few others, had trained off. There were some encouraging signs for Saturn (fourth), who hit the line much better this time round and could be one to consider for the future.
The dazzling win of Best Gift when demolishing his rivals by 51/2 lengths indicated he is a serious galloper, when he does everything right.
He received a 13-point penalty for that win, elevating him to a rating of 85, but he leaves the impression the best is yet to come.
There was a lot to like about the run from Picture Perfect, who finished third to Super Prince over 1,200 metres (race 284). It was his first run in six months and he clearly needed the outing. He is open to plenty of improvement.
The manner in which Winning Cat found the line over the Sha Tin mile (race 287) was good enough to suggest he can get away with a race in the near future. Sean Woods' yard has been out of form recently but with Best Luck winning on New Year's Day (race 288) it may be a sign that stable is ready to be followed.
There was some market support for Sparkling Star, who finished third to Best Luck. He ran very well in defeat and should handle a step up to a mile to win in this grade.
Caspar Fownes has a couple of nice youngsters in the yard that ran well on Boxing Day including Pionero (race 273) and Victory Treasure (race 278). The former finished a highly respectable second to Grand Commands over 1,000 metres, hitting the line full of running.
He didn't have a hard preparation leading up to that run and there is a good deal of scope for improvement. In the same event, Glory Years (fifth) also showed some progress.
Victory Treasure drifted in the betting but caught the eye when rattling home to finish sixth to debutant Ample Gains. It was a solid effort given that he had shown little potential in his work. The winner is clearly destined for more success.
It may be worth sticking with Zhi You Spirit one more time, especially if he finds a race in the bottom grade on the all-weather.
He finished fourth in a class four contest on the specialist surface and dropped two further points in the ratings.
ONES TO NOTE:
Picture Perfect, Pionero, Zhi You Spirit.