Happy Zero's win augurs well for HK Sprint tilt
By any stretch of the imagination, there was a great wow factor to Happy Zero's win in the Sha Tin Sprint Trophy last weekend which augurs well for home-team prospects of defending the Hong Kong Sprint yet again.
Not only did Happy Zero declare himself right up with the best around, but even One World and Brilliant Chapter did enough to say they belong with the A-graders, too.
Sure, with just 117 pounds to carry, Happy Zero had some advantages but he still produced some serious sectional times in what was a somewhat deceptive race to watch.
At first look, it appeared that the leading horses must have gone much too fast and left themselves with nothing at the sharp end of the race. How else would you explain the last three horses filling the three placings?
Yet the official sectional times tell another, more impressive, tale.
The initial 200m split of the race in 13.27 seconds was a touch faster than the club's official sectional standard for the grade but by no means mad pace. The second 400m section was certainly faster than average but, oddly enough, so was the final 400m section - the one during which the three placegetters all gave away big starts to the leaders and reeled them in. The Jockey Club's published last 400m standard is 22.1 seconds and, leader to leader, the split was run in 22.03 seconds on Sunday. The three placegetters all ran faster again than that.
One of the difficulties of really getting in and being rock solid on analysing the times for the race comes with it having been the only 1,000m race on the card. The speed of the surface for straight races at Sha Tin is almost always different to that for the circle races on the same day - sometimes quite seriously different - so it is difficult to compare other times on Sunday with what Happy Zero did.
But it boils down to this - if the 1,000m course was running fast, then those three placegetters have been above average for a Premier race. If the track was running average, then they were all even better than that.
And there's still Sacred Kingdom to come.