Talented Merry Way looks primed for a winning return after turning in a strong performance at the Happy Valley barrier trials yesterday morning, suggesting his recent laser throat operation has been successful.
The Van Nistelrooy gelding was previously in the care of Paul O'Sullivan, who raced him five times at Sha Tin last season for two minor placings over 1,400m. Merry Way has since been transferred to trainer David Hall.
Hall sent Merry Way to have his first look at the city track, and the gelding handled it with consummate ease under the guidance of Brett Prebble - winning the 1,000m heat untouched in a time of 1.00.08.
Prebble allowed his mount to settle at the rear after a good jump, and eased him between runners down the straight, allowing Merry Way to stride to the line under his own steam.
Merry Way was an unbeaten New Zealand import, who won over 1,400m and 1,600m at his first two starts, and with that second barrier trial under his belt, he should be ready to race for the first time this preparation in the coming weeks.
Another well-performed runner, Dynamic Blitz, who won four races last season for trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai, also had his first look at the tricky circuit.
He should be suited by the tight-turning city track, and may well pop up in the 1,000m Class One handicap scheduled for the Happy Valley meeting on February 10.
If he can settle close to the speed in that event, he may take some holding out, given the strength of his trial effort with apprentice Ben So Tik-hung in the saddle.
So allowed Dynamic Blitz to cruise in the lead and run the 1,200m course in a time of 1.14.03 to win by three lengths, with the apprentice maintaining a tight hold on the stylish galloper down the straight.
Two trials - both on the all-weather surface - were also conducted at Sha Tin on Friday morning, and Master Elite, who is recovering from some off-side fetlock troubles and is yet to race this season, seems to be doing well.
Master Elite was eased down by Prebble over the final 100m to finish fourth behind all-the-way winner Easy Ahead (1.11.59), completing the 1,200m heat in a time of 1.11.91.
Royal Pumpkin displayed a powerful turn of foot with Prebble aboard to claim the second 1,200m batch in a similar time of 1.11.53.