Good days are just around the corner for O'Sullivan and Doleuze
Paul O'Sullivan and Olivier Doleuze have experienced slow starts to the season, by their high standards at least, but the performance of Fellowship in the first barrier trial at Sha Tin on Friday indicates things are rapidly turning for the better.
Fellowship charged home from an impossible position in the 1,200 metres trial on the all-weather track and got within a length of the winner, the O'Sullivan-trained stablemate Treasure Raiders, when the post was reached.
It wasn't so much the bare facts and figures of the trial but the way Fellowship did it, making up the huge leeway with Doleuze sitting motionless on his back, riding on a long rein as though the gelding was ambling through pacework.
On the turn, there were five horses in the 'action division' of the trial and two - Fellowship and Industrial Success - that were out the back.
So it was amazing to see Fellowship eat away at the huge deficit and get so close at the finish, claiming Group-class sprinter Regency Horse (Felix Coetzee) for third place right on the line.
Fellowship is yet another son of the former outstanding New Zealand sprinter O'Reilly, who in turn was a son of two champion sprinters in Last Tycoon and the 1989 Golden Slipper heroine Courtza. O'Sullivan trained O'Reilly during his tenure as 11-times champion trainer of New Zealand, so he certainly knows and understands the breed.
Fellowship looked an outstanding prospect last season when he won at his first two starts over the Sha Tin 1,400m circuit. Doleuze rode him to the second of those wins, on February 25, and his tremendous finishing speed was a feature of the victory. Fellowship then had a setback, with the Jockey Club's veterinary reports saying he was lame in the left hind leg in April.
But he is also known to have experienced feet problems prior to his return on June 17, when he failed in the race won by Joy And Fun.
Whatever ailed Fellowship at the time, it seems those two traditional healing parents - father time and mother nature - have worked their magic yet again.
O'Sullivan would also have been pleased to see Treasure Raiders return to form. The gelding is a useful commodity in Class Four and is currently just one point away from the Class Four threshold, on 61 points, in the handicap.
Treasure Raiders was ridden by Eddie Lai Wai-ming, who bounced the gelding out almost a length in front and ensured he relaxed and travelled kindly in front.
Treasure Raiders ambled down the home straight, with Lai riding on a long rein, and held on to score by a neck from Victory Treasure (Jacky Tong Chi-kit).
Victory Treasure, a son of Zabeel, was another for whom the end-of-season ratings adjustment was a non event.
He was a 73-rater when he finished fourth to Packing Angel in his final run for last term and now returns on a 74 mark.
However, it seems Caspar Fownes has the gelding in good order.
He travelled kindly approaching the home turn and came home with plenty of petrol left in the tank.
In the second trial, Winning Pattern (Gerald Mosse) gained the verdict by a short head from Steel Nerves (Doleuze), with the runner-up being the more impressive performer.
Fellowship has racked up this many number of wins from three starts: 2