Impressive Little Bridge is a star in the making
An impressive debut up the Sha Tin straight course was the ideal platform for three-year-old Little Bridge to take the rise to Class Three and the Hong Kong University Alumni Association Challenge Cup today.
Little Bridge (Zac Purton) had shown real quality in his trials in New Zealand last year, but connections of the Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained youngster hid him towards the rear when he trialled twice here.
Nevertheless, word got out and the Faltaat gelding was heavily backed, despite drawing the wrong side of the straight course.
Sharply into a handy spot with good gate speed, Little Bridge was always in command as he trailed the leaders until Purton went for him in the last 150m. And Little Bridge responded strongly, running away to beat another smart young horse in Romantic City by more than two lengths, running slick time and spreading the field right out at the finish.
It was the sign of a horse with a future in higher grades and Shum has found a nice stepping stone into the next grade. Little Bridge is opposed to a mix of horses struggling for form and some younger, lightly raced sprinters yet to find their feet.
Although he has drawn low again in gate four, most of the speed looks to be closer to the first half of the draw than the outside, with the likes of Eternal Beauty in gate two, Towkay Flyer (seven) and Dane Patrol (nine).
The likelihood is that these will be the horses going forward early and drifting over to the outer as the race progresses. That will give Purton the option of contesting the lead or tracking over behind these speed horses in similar vein to his tactics on Little Bridge first time out.
His danger looks to be Eternal Beauty (Brett Prebble) as trainer Me Tsui Yu-sak has reapplied the blinkers that were the gelding's undoing around the bends at Happy Valley two starts ago.
First time in the shades, Eternal Beauty didn't take the turn there and ran a number of his rivals off the track before finishing a good second to Chevalier King.
He is better suited up the straight track and that gear change back to blinkers should see him sharp enough to get forward with the lead, despite his low alley.
Little Bridge made an eye-catching impression at the first time of asking, winning by a yawning (lengths): 2.25