O'Sullivan's newest star Legend makes colourful mark
Lightning struck a second time for trainer Paul O'Sullivan yesterday as Legend Of Colour threw down his claims to the four-year-old features coming up with a hollow maiden victory in the Ma On Shan handicap (1,600m).
On the same day in 2008, O'Sullivan took the Class Two mile with his stable syndicate horse of last season, Never Look Back, as he made his first impact at Sha Tin.
Never Look Back had issues with overracing - which on yesterday's evidence in the feature race he has yet to overcome - and was subsequently beaten as a hot favourite in the Classic Mile behind Helene Mascot before turning out overall to be disappointing, but O'Sullivan is hoping for better luck with the newest stable syndication.
Legend Of Colour (Douglas Whyte) had mixed it with the best New Zealand three-year-olds last season where he raced as Avancer, but came up slightly short in a vintage classic crop.
With more time to mature, he will get another crack at the big time in Hong Kong as a four-year-old, and O'Sullivan is hoping he's a better proposition this time around.
'His first run here over 1,000m was very good, then his last couple a bit below par but to see him come out and open up like that today and win by four lengths, well, that gives us the confidence to go on to the Classic Mile and those races with hopes of measuring up,' the trainer said. 'This was the sort of form that I thought he was capable of producing, but I came here only hoping today.'
Punters were keener than that though, backing Legend Of Colour down from better than 7-1 before the late scratching of Mainland Shuttle to just 4.5 by race time and they never had much cause for concern.
Whyte switched the gelding off back in the field from a wide drawn but his acceleration from the top of the straight took him to the leaders at the 150m before the Kaapstad gelding pulled further away the further the race went, despite the 133 pounds of top weight.
'He laid down today what he had shown us in his trials,' said Whyte.
'Paul's had a high opinion of him, but I think the horse has been fragile mentally. He has definitely picked up his game in that way and really gave me a lovely feel there today.'