Eagle Spirit shows some fancy footwork
Andreas Schutz picked up another winner on Saturday's New Year's Day programme at Sha Tin with the overdue Sammy's Fortune, and the trainer shouldn't be too far off another victory with Eagle Spirit.
The five-year-old was unwanted in the betting at 165-1 after making some progress in his first two starts over the 1,400m for 11th (6 1/2lengths) and ninth (4 3/4 lengths) behind Lucky Bravo, before producing an eye-catching fifth in the Class Three Kowloon Peak Handicap (1,400m) behind Just Fantastic.
Neil Callan and Eagle Spirit copped a bump out of the starting stall, made their run one off the fence, straightened short of room four deep until forcing their way through a gap at the 200m and went to the line nicely.
Eagle Spirit was a well-performed runner in New Zealand with 11 left-handed starts, winning a 16-runner event over the 1,400m at Otaki from five starts as a three-year-old, before securing another 1,400m win in a 70-handicap race at Awapuni and two placings as a four-year-old. He is from the sire of Keeper, a former SAJC Goodwood Handicap winner of seven races up to a mile and the local sire of 16 winners from 26 starts - the best of whom has been Special Days, who has reached a rating high of 127.
Eagle Spirit appears to be getting used to the right turns with three progressive runs under his belt and should favour a step up to the mile. Like many of his sire's progeny, the gelding should also be effective at Happy Valley.
The Class Four Piper's Hill Handicap was won by outsider Oasis Davis, but it was John Dory (1.7 favourite) and King Of Fish II (15-1) who can go on to make a bigger impact.
The John Size-trained John Dory tracked the leading pair of Sky Mascot and Multiproud, while Manfred Man Ka-leung's King Of Fish II bided his time three back on the fence.
While Douglas Whyte got busy on John Dory at the 300m, King Of Fish II and Derek Leung Ka-chun were briefly held up behind them, but both closed off nicely to finish second and third respectively.
John Dory was probably under the odds off four progressive trials, but will come on for this outing and eventually add to the win column of his sire Commands, who has been successful in Hong Kong with 16 winners from 19 starters.
The three-year-old was a graduate of the 2009 Australian Easter Yearling Sale for A$150,000 (HK$1.18 million).
King Of Fish II - hand picked by Man from the National Horses in Training Sale in Perth, Australia for A$125,000 (HK$987,500) - is improving with each outing and wil be fancied to break through at his next attempt.