Derby aspirants Beauty Flash and Algarve live up to their top billing
The day wasn't always pretty for some of the most promising young horses, but at least two of the major Hong Kong Derby aspirants managed to live up to their billing in the final two events.
The Tony Cruz-trained Beauty Flash made it five wins from six starts with another deceptive victory in the Class One London Handicap (1,400m) when he again appeared to wait for his rivals once he hit the front.
'Actually it wasn't ideal for him because the horses right on the pace haven't been winning,' said Cruz.
'He's a lovely horse to train, Beauty Flash, and I think he gave us the sign today that he really is a potential Group One horse by beating Armada, who is a Group One winner.'
Matthew Chadwick had won on Gem Of Chiu Ton for Cruz in race six and completed a double on Beauty Flash as he remained unbeaten on the gelding in five outings now, but he may not be aboard when the chestnut next appears.
Owner Simon Kwok Siu-ming is reportedly leaning towards Christophe Soumillon to replace the top apprentice as the major four-year-old events begin.
'Next stop Classic Mile and you know when everybody comes to Group One races, they always want the top jockeys on their horses,' Cruz said. 'But I will have a ride for Matthew in the race, too.'
Defeats of Supreme Win and Taverner early in the day had punters baying for Brett Prebble's blood each round of the parade yard during the day, but the Australian had an armchair ride around on Algarve in the final event as the son of Encosta de Lago took one more step towards the Derby, too.
He coasted around despite a 133-pound handicap to win his fourth on end and heal some of the disappointment of trainer David Hall at Taverner's defeat.
'Brett said he was playing up in the gates then came out slow,' Hall said. 'It's just one of those things with an inexperienced horse - I suppose he's been a time-bomb and we suspected it was possible any time, it just hasn't happened before today that his greenness could cost him.'
While Taverner will be back, Algarve was simply dominant and his fourth win for the season will give Hall all the room he wants now to prepare the gelding for the Derby.
'It's good he's won today because his rating will be high enough to ensure a start wherever we want to go with him, and we can sit back and pick our mark a little,' Hall said.
'He's always been a scopey horse, always looked sure to run a distance and now he really does look a Derby horse. I'm not sure where he'll go next but we have options.'
South African rider Greg Cheyne said relief was his main emotion after snapping an 81-ride losing streak in the opening race on the Tony Millard-trained Mr Celerity on his only mount for the meeting.
'I have had only a few chances in that time and it hasn't been easy,' said Cheyne, who had last saluted the judge on October 11 and predicts a good future for Mr Celerity.
'I quite like him. He lost the turn a little bit and he has a lot to learn but I think he has the makings of a very nice horse.'