Great Hero can keep win tally ticking over for Man
Manfred Man Ka-leung scored a career first when he landed three winners at Happy Valley on Wednesday night and the production line churned out another at Sha Tin yesterday, this time Great Hero in a barrier trial on the all-weather track.
Great Hero's performance was a stark form reversal, with the gelding having finished last behind debutant winner Monte Cristo over 1,400 metres at Sha Tin on November 11. He was beaten 23 lengths on that occasion and stipendiary stewards ordered him back to the trials.
Back on the artificial surface, and handled by Jacky Tong Chi-kit, Great Hero was not the best to begin but worked his way forward after 200m and crossed to lead comfortably before the 800m corner. From that point, the result of the trial was never in doubt, with the son of Easy Rocking keeping on under a hold to score by four lengths.
Half way down the straight, the margin could have been anything, as Great Hero was sailing along at least five lengths clear and really enjoying his morning's work.
Tong took a peak back to see his rivals a huge margin behind and then began easing the bay down, resulting in a relatively steady time for the final furlong.
Great Hero has raced 10 times, with his lone win being over 1,400m at Sha Tin in June, when he led throughout on a C+3 rail placement.
In-form Singing Diners, handled by Eric Saint-Martin, went through along the rails to finish second, without the Frenchman ever allowing him off the bridle.
The chestnut, trained by Danny Shum Chap-shing, was a last-start winner in Class Three - at the same meeting where Great Hero ran last.
This performance shows he retains his form and he'll be a winning chance again at his next outing, having been promoted only seven points, from 70 to 77, in the handicap as a result of his latest success.
Keen Spirit, ridden by Thomas Yeung Kai-tong, finished third, a mere short head behind Singing Diners, but was nowhere near as impressive, with Yeung riding him along strongly in the final 300m in a bid to make him perform.
Just behind them, also strongly on the bridle, was the Paul O'Sullivan-trained Goal Keeper, with Brett Prebble on board. The Kaapstad gelding was disappointing last start but is slowly getting fitter and should soon be ready to improve.
The second and only other heat of the morning was won by Jade China, handled by Manoel Nunes for Andy Leung Ting-wah.
The gelding raced just three times last year and failed to make any impact, before being turned out for a break. This was a significantly sharper effort from the son of Jade Robbery. He was always handy in the first 400m before driving through to be joint leader at the 800m.
Nunes gave Jade China a squeeze approaching the 200m and must have been surprised at the response he received, with the gelding putting a space between himself and his opposition before scoring by 51/2 lengths.
Bold Champion (Tong) was wide early before crossing to race outside Jade China. However, when his rivals quickened half way down the straight, Bold Champion was left for dead and ultimately plugged away to hold down second from Spring Sun (Saint-Martin), a newcomer racing in the same colours as Silver Sun.
Triumph, who earned himself some unwelcome headlines after unseating apprentice Terry Wong Chi-wai at Happy Valley 10 days ago, travelled wide throughout here and kept on at the one pace, finishing sixth of the seven runners.