Tuscan Spirit looks a winner waiting to happen for Size
John Size has made a great start to the new season, and the five-times champion trainer looks to have some fresh ammunition coming to hand in Tuscan Spirit, an impressive winner of the first turf trial at Sha Tin last Tuesday.
Tuscan Spirit, handled by Mark du Plessis, comfortably won the opening turf heat over the straight 800 metres course by a neck from Gold City, and his winning time of 47.68 seconds was faster than the 48.23 seconds returned by Grand Dragon in taking the subsequent heat.
Tuscan Spirit is only a three-year-old and was a winner of a two-year-old handicap over 1,200m at Tauranga in New Zealand in April, when having his second start.
The gelding is a member of the first crop of Chianti, a Danehill horse who won as a two, three and four-year-old in England, and now stands at stud in New Zealand.
Chianti is a younger brother to Desert King, winner of the Irish 2000 Guineas and Derby in 1997 and best known now as the sire of triple Melbourne Cup heroine Makybe Diva.
Tuscan Spirit began well and bounced straight to the lead, travelling nicely on the bridle for Du Plessis all the way. He kept on well under a good hold and was far from extended when hitting the line.
Runner-up Gold City, by comparison, had a hard trial. The unraced Fusaichi Pegasus three-year-old began erratically, losing around three lengths, and settled at the rear of the field of 10.
Weichong Marwing pushed him between runners at the 400m and he battled on late, albeit under solid riding in what was also a decent performance, bearing in mind the handicap he gave himself at the start.
Danny Shum Chap-shing had two attractive performers - Amnesty ( fourth) and Smart Knight (fifth).
The Caspar Fownes-trained Grand Dragon took the second heat without ever coming off the steel.
This son of former Australian Cup winner Istidaad led and was always under a hold from Brett Prebble before scoring by 11/4 lengths from Turf Winner (Douglas Whyte), who held off Super Surveys (Du Plessis) narrowly for second.
Grand Dragon has an entry for the Class Four over the straight 1,000m at Sha Tin on Saturday, where he is scheduled to clash with another ultra-impressive trial winner, the Sean Woods-trained Bold Decision.
Tuscan Spirit made a big impression at the trials with a smart time of (seconds): 47.68