Escalation the star of Millard's show
Trainer Tony Millard figured prominently in all three all-weather trials at Sha Tin yesterday, and in particular with the winner of the first heat Escalation.
Escalation has improved leaps and bounds since his last outing on January 5 when well beaten on his second start this term, his first run back coming after a year off the track.
Craig Williams had Escalation settled just behind the leading brigade before switching him out in the straight and allowing the gelding to lengthen stride.
He narrowly had the better of Danny Shum Chap-shing's Australian import Sanziro, an exciting prospect with brilliant form from Down Under including a victory in the Blue Diamond Preview (Gr 3, 1,000 metres).
This trial was his best piece of work to date and he looks an exciting prospect for the future.
The South African trainer, Millard's Brains Trust also caught the eye when flashing home to finish fourth under a quiet ride from champion jockey Douglas Whyte.
It was a sterling piece of work from Brains Trust, who made a positive impression in another all-weather trial on February 22.
He has progressed since then and can prove competitive on his first outing.
John Moore's Amsterdam finished in the middle of the field but travelled ominously well for Michael Rodd. The well-bred son of the late Danehill was formerly trained by Aidan O'Brien at Ballydoyle in Ireland and was placed in Listed company over 1,400m.
Millard went on to win the third heat with Tiger Storm, an unraced son of 1993, 2000 Guineas winner Zafonic.
He travelled strongly on the bridle for Willams, and when urged along inside the final 100m, ran on well after taking a few strides to gain his balance.
In the same trial, Fortune Lad (rated 41) was particularly impressive under Robbie Fradd. He wound up finishing fifth, but left the impression he could have won the trial easily. It was an excellent piece of work and he looks in tip-top shape at the moment.
David Hall's Carry The Magic came home strongly under a quiet ride from Rodd and it was a respectable effort.
Francis Lui Kin-wai's The Vase was pushed out to win the second heat by Williams.
It was a superb effort and The Vase has shown enough potential in his work to warrant respect when he steps out for his debut.
However, Jade Dancer was clearly the one to note from the trial. He had plenty of reserve when he hit the wire and Fradd never moved a muscle at any stage of the 1,050m heat.
ONES TO NOTE:
Escalation, Sanziro, Jade Dancer.