Brilliant Billet Express puts rivals in shade
Billet Express went to his summer quarters a winner and he may soon return in exactly the same way, judging by the blitzing he handed out to some quality opposition in his barrier trial at Sha Tin yesterday.
Billet Express, ridden once again by Olivier Doleuze, was one of Hong Kong's most improved horses last season, going from a rating of 75 to 105 with four strong wins, the latest of them on rain-softened ground at Sha Tin on June 18.
Yesterday, the John Moore-trained galloper showed all his brilliance and, despite the lack of urging from Doleuze, he raced to an eight length lead after 600 metres. With the Keltrice gelding showing such raw speed up front over the 1,050m course, the rest of the field was always struggling to stay in touch.
Billet Express won the trial by nine lengths and stopped the clock at one minute 1.4 seconds. His last 200m was his slowest split, 12.59 seconds, but by that time the damage had already been done.
The fastest split from the brilliant five-year-old took place between the 800 and 400m poles, with Billet Express putting this section behind him in an electrifying 21.6 seconds.
Moore quinellaed the trial with his Irish-bred four-year-old Stay Young, who had the distinction of beating champion Electronic Unicorn in a special-weights race over a mile at the end of the 2003-04 season.
The gelding was comprehensively outpaced by Billet Express in the early stages - he wasn't alone on that score - but stuck to his task well in the straight in a performance which augurs well for his coming preparation.
The winner aside, San Lorenzo was the star of this trial. The lightly-raced six-year-old has been moved to the John Size stable and has never looked stronger.
After starting from barrier 10, San Lorenzo and partner Robbie Fradd trekked wide throughout the trial, which was run in driving rain. Being wide without cover and chasing a fast pace is a good recipe for a weak finish, but it didn't apply to San Lorenzo, who hit the line full of zest.
Lightning Star is yet another to have moved house during the break, and now gets his oats at the Moore stable. The Australian Group One winner was slow to acclimatise during his initial season in Hong Kong and his fourth here under Michael Rodd was a promising start to his second term.
Don Felipe, who won a trial last week, had a quieter encounter this time and simply chased them around near the tail of the field.
The second trial was won by the promising three-year-old Good Partner, trained by Manfred Man Ka-leung.
The Quest For Fame gelding had a promising griffin season last term and looks attractively placed on his new-season mark of 54. Andy Leung Ting-wah's Rising Win was handled by Eric Saint-Martin and was surprisingly prominent through for a horse much better known at a mile or even 1,800m. He ran a solid second and was only 11/4 lengths from the winner.
Rising Win went fairly first-up for seventh to Liaobuqi over 1,650m and, on a rating of 44, is potentially not far off a visit to the bottom grade. Wisdom Express, handled by Anthony Delpech for trainer Tony Millard, ran honestly for third, ahead of Happy Elite (Eddie Lai Wai-ming) and Jade Robbery (Fradd).
HORSES TO FOLLOW:
San Lorenzo, Good Partner.