Size team builds up for final assault
A strong on-speed bias made yesterday's barrier trial winners Classa For Ever and Win Fortune seem impressive but from a future viewpoint, casting one's eyes further back in the field should prove far more profitable.
In particular, trainers' premiership leader John Size produced five of his string, all warming up to bolster the frontline troops who have helped the trainer cling on to a narrow lead over a rampaging John Moore as the season has drawn to its final 10 weeks.
Up front in the opening heat it was a one-horse affair, with a blinkered Classa For Ever (Alex Lai Hoi-wing) clearing out to beat late-closing Enchanted (Howard Cheng Yue-tin) by six lengths.
But Size had three runners, the best of which was Class Two galloper San Lorenzo (Robbie Fradd), who worked home stylishly in the straight to finish sixth, under his own steam.
San Lorenzo disappointed in two runs in the second half of January, after which Size decided to put him aside and build him back up again. The Australian-bred son of Torrential looked big and strong here and will be further improved by the outing.
Alongside San Lorenzo was a newcomer to Hong Kong racing, Danehill Express, bearing the famous colours of former Jockey Club steward Larry Yung Chi-kin.
Danehill Express is a superbly bred four-year-old, not only a son of the champion sire Danehill (who now has 300-plus stakeswinners worldwide) but from the AJC Oaks winner Savana City. The colt is therefore a half-brother to Yung's former Horse of the Year Mr Vitality, who retired in 1997 after 10 Hong Kong wins, boasting a domestic rating of 139.
Danehill Express has placed in five of his nine starts in Victoria where he was trained by Brian Mayfield-Smith. His most significant performance was a solid second to all-the-way winner Al Maher, another son of Danehill, in the Group One Australian Guineas (1,600m) at Flemington.
Danehill Express still looked big in condition, still with a lot of middle to him, and understandably Douglas Whyte didn't knock him around. The trial will bring him on significantly and he will be ready for an improved showing in the next couple of weeks.
Size's third runner in this heat was Financial Kid, a New Zealand private purchase who is yet to make his local debut. Financial Kid had just one start in the South Island of New Zealand and won a race over 1,000m on fast ground at Riccarton in January last year.
Although beaten by six lengths, runner-up Enchanted would have pleased trainer Michael Chang Chun-wai with his strong-finishing second. The Danzero gelding gave the leaders some 12 lengths at the 600m and hit the line stronger than anything else.
Just behind the placegetters in fourth spot was High Price, a 44-rater from the David Hall yard. He too made ground late without being given too much pressure by Brett Prebble.
The second heat, like the morning's opener, was speed dominated, with Win Fortune (rating 37) going straight to the front and keeping on under riding to score by three lengths from Wonderful Boy.
South African Group winner Brilliant One, ridden by Thomas Yeung Kai-tong for trainer Tony Millard, showed his first glimpse of form since arriving by making good ground in the final 300m to finish third.
Size had two more gallopers perform pleasingly just behind the placegetters - Rely on Me (Whyte) and Vitality Champ (Eddie Lai Wai-ming). Both gallopers stayed wide and out of trouble throughout, their galloping actions unimpeded, and each rider went to the line with a lapful of horse.
HORSES TO FOLLOW:
Enchanted, San Lorenzo, Rely On Me.