Ponderosa has the Hall-marks of a champion
David Hall sent five runners to the starting blocks on Sunday at Sha Tin and came away with three minor placings, with Ponderosa making a massive impression at first time of asking in race three, a Class Four sprint over the 1,000m.
Ponderosa was never rushed in his preparation since stepping out for his initial exercise last year in November, but according to the betting market overnight at 4-1 odds - third-most popular behind Taiji Spirit and Fatboy Sugar in the 11-horse field - connections were expecting a big run.
He jumped only fairly from barrier two for Brett Prebble and had a few behind him in the centre of the track at the 600m, was ridden to pick up the bit approaching the 400m and extended nicely at the 200m to come up 11/4 lengths behind Fatboy Sugar and a lip off Supreme Taiji.
And according to Prebble, who was asked to elaborate on the run, he stated Ponderosa needed time to balance in the early stages, took a bad step and went off stride at the 500m but responded well at the 200m. The four-year-old son of the speedball Choisir, the sire of the recently crowned champion sprinter in Australia Starspangledbanner, has a lot of learning and improvement to come.
Hall has taken his time getting this one to the races and will no doubt allow his gargantuan 1,255-pound steed to further come into his own with racing and should be picking up some nice paycheques in the near future. Before landing at Sha Tin, Ponderosa won a 800m (49.6) trial at Cranbourne, Melbourne, on August 3, 2009 by 11/4 lengths on a heavy track.
Hall's exciting Vaugirard put in another cracking effort to come from near last, despite being held-up for a run at the 250m, to finish a distant second behind Soaring Dragon in the final race, the Kwangtung Handicap Cup, but one to take note from the race is Almond Lee's Dragon Fighter.
He wasn't expected to be a factor at 37-1 odds but, after never travelling better than three deep in midfield, Dragon Fighter plugged away six wide in the straight to finish fourth under the guidance of Zac Purton.
It was the Irish-bred three-year-old's second run in Hong Kong after making some late ground for seventh in his debut behind stalwart Perfect Gear on July 7 in a Happy Valley sprint over 1,200m.
He raced in Europe under the name of In Some Respect and arrived with sound juvenile form from six runs, including a runner-up effort in the Group Two Netjets Railway Stakes (1,200m) and a fourth in the Group One Phoenix Stakes (1,200m), each time behind smart Alfred Nobel at the Curragh.
Off his overseas form and his latest performance, Dragon Fighter may have a lot more room for improvement off his rating of 83.
He should also relished when he gets further as he is a second-crop son of Indian Haven, an Irish 2,000 Guineas (Ire-G1, 1,600m) winner, and the Lit De Justice mare Burnin' Memories, an American black-type winner up to 1,700m.