Blinkers do wonders for Gallant Lion
The addition of blinkers resulted in a stunning turnaround for Gallant Lion, with the former Perth racer looking a transformed animal in the first of two all-weather track trials at Sha Tin yesterday.
Gallant Lion, winner of four races in West Australia as a two and three-year-old, has just one placing from nine Hong Kong starts but has been a disappointment.
The near-black gelding was recently transferred to the yard of premiership pacesetter Caspar Fownes, who decided on using the vision-reducing equipment after watching him in a quiet turf trial on April 3.
On that occasion, jockey Shane Dye had Gallant Lion in the clear, in the middle of the track, and didn't ask for any effort from the four-year-old in the concluding stages.
With his fitness having been improved by that outing, and fitted with blinkers, Gallant Lion worked to the lead in the first 200m of yesterday's trial and was more than a length in front at the 800m.
That margin extended to almost three lengths at the 600m and it was soon apparent that Gallant Lion was in a race of his own.
Dye just niggled him along in the final 200m to keep his mind on the job but the gelding never really looked like stopping.
Ultimately, the trial became a procession, with Gallant Lion stopping the clock in a very fast 1:10.0 and scoring by four lengths.
Global Way, prepared by strike-rate leading trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fie, ran a good trial to finish second and was not pushed out by Manoel Nunes to achieve the placing.
For a horse that has now dropped to a rating of 40, and therefore into Class Five, he is now in a position where he can win a race for connections.
Seven-year-old Present Treasure has excelled himself this season, taking him to a new ratings peak in the middle of Class Three, but may not be finished yet.
The New Zealand-bred gelding finished third in this trial and while he was the significant margin of nine lengths behind Global Way, he had travelled wide throughout and was never asked a serious question by jockey Eddie Lai Wai-ming.
The Paul O'Sullivan-trained Fruity Fruity caught the eye with a late flourish along the rails to finish eighth underneath Olivier Doleuze.
The six-year-old is now back in Class Two and, as such, may even get an opportunity at Happy Valley before the season concludes.
The second trial was won by the roguish Treasure Planet, who was barred from racing after an erratic display at Happy Valley on March 14.
That night, he tried to keep going at the 600m corner instead of turning right, incurring the wrath of the stewards who ruled he should trial twice to their satisfaction before being allowed back to the races.
The first disciplinary trial took place on March 30 when the Snippets four-year-old finished fourth but actually went straight.
Yesterday, he completed his time in the 'sin bin' by leading throughout in the second trial and once again going straight, scoring by three-quarters of a length from Happy Ash.