California Memory up to the task
California Memory has put the issues of last season behind him and struck winning form, and the grey can go on with the job in the Panasonic Cup (1,400m) at Sha Tin today.
Tony Cruz only managed to get one run out of California Memory (Matthew Chadwick) last season when the gelding was twice scratched at the gates, but the trainer explained after the win last time the gelding had not been right in any case.
But the passage of time has done the trick for California Memory and his last-start win over this course in Class Two had the stamp of something better on it.
Slow out of the gates, he settled further back than most would have expected and that was no advantage in the race as the leaders didn't go especially quick. But when Chadwick got California Memory to the outside in the final 300m, the four-year-old let go with a devastating burst of acceleration that quickly put the race away and he was coming clear on the line.
Although he rises to a Class One contest, the manner of that win suggested California Memory is well up to the tougher task, especially with only 111 pounds on his back.
What catches the eye most about California Memory's form as a younger horse in France was his consistency, with the grey winning three times and being placed five times from his only eight appearances, a sure sign of an above-average performer.
His biggest danger looks to be another grey, a horse that finished behind him last time out, the John Moore-trained Silver Grecian (Darren Beadman).
His form in Britain as a Group Two winner at Newmarket reads even better than California Memory's old form and, in time, he promises to be a high-class performer. His first run for ninth to California Memory had plenty of merit and was much better than it looks on paper.
Both the greys raced back in the field that day, but, while California Memory found clear running on the outside, Silver Grecian was picking his way through the field. He wasn't finishing off as well as the winner, but he was making ground all the same until the final stages when he ran out of room.
That run should bring him on in condition and he drops appreciably in the weights with the class rise.
Time to thrill
California Memory unleashed a devastating burst in the final 400m to clock: 22.26