More success on the cards for Double Luck and Danabaa
With Christophe Soumillon now back in Europe plying his trade, Brett Prebble took over on Double Luck at the barrier trials last Tuesday, and the three-year-old looks set to continue on his winning way.
Double Luck has never run a bad race, having raced eight times for three wins, three seconds, a third and a fourth. And that record has seen the O'Reilly gelding fly up the ratings - 83 - and therefore in the bottom quadrant of Class Two.
Trainer Manfred Man Ka-leung has done a fine job with the New Zealand-bred youngster, and the trial win down the outside of the straight 1,000m track merely emphasised his progressive nature.
Prebble had Double Luck quickly into stride from barrier 10, and the youngster was always in touch with the leading division, while travelling strongly on the bridle.
When Prebble gave Double Luck the slightest encouragement, he bounded up to be joint leader at the 200m and never came off the bridle in the concluding stages, ultimately scoring by a head from Danabaa (Zac Purton).
The superiority of the first pair was such that the third horse, Travel Consultant (Terry Wong Chi-wai) was 31/2 lengths away in third.
Danabaa is an interesting horse, a four-year-old son of the versatile stallion Anabaa, who seems to get sprinters and stayers with equal frequency.
Danabaa began his career with the master trainer John Size and won one of his five outings, but wasn't a straight-forward proposition. He often raced greenly and always gave the impression that whatever he was doing at the time, he would be a significantly better horse in subsequent preparations.
Danabaa now earns his oats at the yard of Ricky Yiu Poon-fie, who not only has the distinction of being the trainer of the world's number one sprinter Sacred Kingdom but the gun strike-rate trainer in town for the past two seasons.
The gelding showed surprising speed to lead, crossing to the outside rail and with Double Luck following him throughout. When Double Luck claimed him at the 200m, the young sprinter could have been expected to race away but that was not what happened.
Danabaa kept on well in a performance that had 'coming winner' written all over it. The winning time was 59.2 seconds, with the final 400m split taking 23.4 seconds.
In the fourth trial, also down the straight course, the Tony Millard-trained Kingsgate Glory was handled by the stable's allocated apprentice Thomas Yeung Kai-tong, and did well to get the photo over in-form sprinter Team Work (Howard Cheng Yue-tin).
Once again, the first pair pulled a decent margin on their rivals, with Young Hero (Alex Lai Hoi-wing) gaining third placing but a respectful 23/4 lengths behind.
Gallant Champion (Brett Prebble), a 90-rated New Zealand-bred private purchase who is yet to race here, was an eye-catching fourth, while Australian Group Two winner Growl (Eric Saint-Martin) was an attractive fifth without coming off the bridle.
A disappointment was the Size-trained Lucia, handled by Douglas Whyte. Two weeks earlier, Lucia had finished last in a trial down the straight when ridden by Manoel Nunes and performed erratically at the 400m, ultimately being eased to finish at the tail of the field.
Lucia did not go quite so erratically this time but he failed to respond with Whyte's urgings at the 400m and was beaten shortly after, weakening out to again finish last and is clearly a long way from the form that saw him able to defeat Many Gains earlier in the season.