Billet Express back to his old self
It's been more than a year since Billet Express upset Scintillation in the Chairman's Sprint Prize but like so many members of the rampaging John Moore yard, the speedster looks like he's back on song.
Billet Express, ridden by Douglas Whyte, made easy work of the first grass trial over 1,000 metres down the Sha Tin straight yesterday, scoring by 21/2 lengths in fast time without ever coming off the bridle.
The big Keltrice bounced straight into top gear and fairly sauntered along next to the outside rail. He comfortably accounted for Caspar Fownes' consistent Sanziro (Jacky Tong Chi-kit), with Regency Dragon (Marco Chui Kwan-lai) third after being subjected to full pressure at the 250m.
The turnaround for Billet Express was remarkable, as he had been completely uncompetitive at his last start in the 2007 edition of the Chairman's Sprint Prize on March 4. On that occasion, despite having an outstanding rider like Michael Kinane on board, Billet Express flopped out the back and failed to improve at any stage.
What a difference two months make. During that time, Moore has been able to stop Billet Express and then crank him up again, and the six-year-old - who's already won seven races, for prizemoney of HK$7.2 million - is ready to rumble once more.
The most significant statistic in this trial was the winning time of 57.1 seconds, the quickest of the five heats over the straight 1,000m course and a full second faster than standard after allowing for the speed of the track on the day.
Outside the placegetters, the performance of Victory Code was eye catching. The Faltaat gelding followed the speed along the outside rail and jockey Brett Prebble never allowed him to come off the bridle in the final stages, finishing an untested fourth.
This was the second smart trial effort from Victory Code and the David Hall-trained galloper is now ready to win, but it should be noted he's definitely a better racehorse if he can get a track with some cushion in it.
The opening trial yesterday saw a huge victory for the David Ferraris-trained Tactic King, handled by in-form Anthony Delpech.
The Zabeel gelding is better known for his prowess in middle-distance races but showed the sprinters a thing or two over the 1,050m circuit on the all-weather track.
Tactic King, racing in blinkers and a tongue tie, began quickly and soon forged to the front, but did not cross to the fence, maintaining a 1/2 length advantage in the two-wide position outside K-Jack (Manoel Nunes).
Shortly after straightening, Delpech squeezed Tactic King up and the gelding quickened handsomely, scoring by seven lengths in the smart time of 60.9 seconds.
The other notable trial winner was Alpha Mail, handled by Jacky Tong for the Fownes yard. Alpha Mail has been a little disappointing so far but this trial saw a complete change of tactics with the Australian private purchase, with Tong sending him along as joint leader rather than restraining him back as jockeys have been doing so far.
The son of 10-time Group One winner Octagonal adapted to the tactical switch without a problem and was always under a hold from the apprentice, ultimately scoring by a ? length from his 'cousin' Booming City who, ironically, is a son of Octagonal's kid brother Columbia.
This pair spaced the rest, with Whiplash working home late for a pleasing third, ahead of My Say (Vincent Sit Shing-kin) and Grand Supreme (Whyte).