Fluent Dragon makes positive impression
Silent Dragon may have looked to have reached his limit in the ratings last start but the New Zealand-bred sprinter gave an entirely different impression at yesterday's barrier trials at Sha Tin, bolting up by four lengths in very fast time.
Silent Dragon, handled by top apprentice Marco Chui Kwan-lai, scorched over the 1,000 metres down the straight turf track in 57.0 seconds without coming off the bridle at any stage.
Diaghilev, who was well beaten by the very smart Warrior on debut at Sha Tin on May 20, finished a distant second and was ridden along by Olivier Doleuze to do so.
Silent Dragon has raced five times for two wins, one down the straight at Sha Tin under Douglas Whyte and the other at Happy Valley with Brett Prebble on board.
However, at his last start, at Sha Tin on April 22, Silent Dragon was beaten a length in Class Three by Winning Fellowship over 1,000m and didn't have anything left to give. The Faltaat colt was handled by Thomas Yeung Kai-tong on that occasion and shifted ground under pressure on at least two occasions.
It was a much more confident and fluent Silent Dragon that strolled up yesterday, running easily the fastest of four heats at the distance and making clearly the most positive impression of any horse on the morning.
Diaghilev, a son of the very good stallion Stravinsky, was pressured to achieve this placing and it looks as though he's finding 1,000m too short. It's no real surprise as his dam Our Loch Tay is a daughter of the very stout Northern Dancer horse Salmon Leap, so trainer Andreas Schutz will no doubt be looking for longer races for this grey three-year-old.
The other star of the morning was River Jordan, who easily won the second trial under Douglas Whyte, even though the winning margin was only a half length.
The John Moore-trained galloper was balanced some four lengths off the lead and basically took Whyte into the race on his own terms at the 400m. The Durban Demon sat quietly against River Jordan in the final 200m and the gelding ultimately stopped the clock in 58.9 seconds, but giving the clear impression there was much more there should it have been required.
Giga Spirits, who had been ordered back to the trials by stewards after a last-start failure, ran a battling second but the Tony Cruz-trained galloper seems to have lost his fluency.
He was never travelling convincingly for Chui and could not have found much more if required.
The David Hall-trained Bodacious trialled attractively under Danny Nikolic and was only asked to stretch out over the final 200m.
Derek Cruz landed the opening trial over 1,600m when Way Leung Ming-wai guided useful stayer Brown Beauty to a one length victory.
The Shinko King gelding was forced into the foreign role of pacemaker in a slow tempo but adapted quite well to the strange roll and was still able to offer more when Leung asked for an effort over the final 400m.
He comfortably saw off a late challenge from the Sean Woods-trained Prideoftheorient (Nikolic), who was subjected to full pressure by the Australian horseman over the final 200m.