Gold Medal looks a winner in waiting for Tsui
Sophomore handler Me Tsui Yu-sak should have another winner coming up if the performance of Gold Medal Winner in yesterday's dirt barrier trial at Sha Tin is anything to judge by.
Gold Medal Winner, handled by Vincent Sit Shing-kin, travelled close to the speed throughout but quickened up impressively in the straight before ambling to the line without pressure to score by 23/4 lengths at the end of the 1,050 metres.
Runner-up Lucky Winner gives us a reliable benchmark, with the Class Three sprinter having been in good form in the early part of the season, yet Gold Medal Winner made him look pedestrian as he ran straight on by in the home stretch.
Gold Medal Winner has been struggling for form and Tsui went back to the drawing boards after the gelding's lacklustre 11th of 13 runners behind Medic Power over 1,200m at Sha Tin on February 4.
The clue might be in Gold Medal Winner's affinity for the all-weather, and Tsui may now look for a race for him over 1,200m on the artificial surface in the coming weeks.
It was a similar story back on December 15, when Douglas Whyte rode Gold Medal Winner to score in a 1,200m barrier trial on the all-weather track, defeating open-class sprinter Our Jet by 13/4 lengths in smart time.
Gold Medal Winner has not extended himself at either of his last two runs, indicating he may not be hitting out properly on the firmer tracks. Either a softening of the grass track with spring rains in coming weeks or an attempt on the artificial surface may now be what's required.
Lucky Winner, handled by Jacky Tong Chi-kit, was second early but forged to the front, two wide, at the 800m. Sit had Gold Medal Winner outside Lucky Winner at that point but the jockey then eased and relaxed the blinkered chestnut in behind Lucky Winner.
In the home straight, Tong had Lucky Winner stretching out nicely but Gold Medal Winner quickly reeled him in, even though Sit was barely moving a muscle on the son of Breeders' Cup mile hero Spinning World.
Sunny King, ridden by Felix Coetzee, followed the speed along the fence but was subjected to hard riding from the champion South African horseman to wind up in third placing.
Sunny King was ordered back to the trials by stewards after finishing last of 14 runners behind Floral Pegasus in the Group One Mercedes-Benz Classic Mile at Sha Tin on January 28.
After that race, veterinary surgeons advised stewards that Sunny King had an irregular heartbeat. Sunny King, raced in the same interests as 2006 Classic Mile hero Sunny Sing, is a son of the Danzig stallion Desert Sun, formerly New Zealand-based but shuttled back to England after the success of his champion daughter Sunline, whose raft of big-race wins included two Cox Plates and the 2000 Hong Kong Mile.
In England, Sunny King won five races - one on turf and four on the Polytrack at Lingfield - and earned his ticket to Hong Kong with a third in the Group Three Jersey Stakes for three-year-olds at Royal Ascot last year.
Sunny King's local debut was a promising fifth behind Adaikali over 1,200m at Sha Tin on December 23, but it's all been downhill for the John Moore-trained four-year-old after that.
Sunny King certainly did not impress here. He was under hard riding for the final 400m and the performance of fourth placed Always Giggle, from the yard of Michael Chang Chun-wai, was significantly better.
Always Giggle was always under a hold from Gerald Mosse and travelled far more impressively than Sunny King, yet was only a neck behind that gelding when the post was reached.