Adoration has all the right connections
John Size left the track on Sunday at Sha Tin brimming with confidence after Adoration showed he was capable of great things in the Class Three William's Coach Handicap (1,200m).
The Australian-bred three-year-old found a nice position in midfield and on the fence, held his ground until peeling out for a clear run entering the final bend, hit the straight five wide and was getting home soundly in the final 100m to clock a final 400m split in a swift 22.61 seconds to come up a stride second behind the best-backed Shahjee.
Adoration was a winner of his only Australian start over the 1,000m on a yielding track at Ballarat in Victoria as Simon's Call for trainer Robert Smerdon.
He went into the race off a good preparation and was well found in the market as the favourite under Douglas Whyte.
Adoration hails from the Golden Slipper winner Catbird, who has produced 16 winners from 22 local starters over sprint-to-mile journeys, including the Group winning performer Green Birdie. He is the second foal of the unraced Red Ransom mare Kooroora Blue, who has produced a triple winner in Victoria by Flying Spur from 1,600m to 1,800m. His dam is also a half-sister to Torumba, a double-Listed winner to 1,400m.
Adoration will be adding to the honour role established by his owner Hui Sai-fun's past runners, including the Group winners Scintillation, Inspiration, Motivation and this season's exciting four-time winner, Admiration.
The Tony Cruz-trained Pure Champion failed to acclimatise quickly enough to have a shot at Derby glory, but showed up in the Class Two Lucky Owners Handicap (1,400m) and was closing off nicely for seventh behind Leading City.
He settled at the rear under rider Gerald Mosse, was nearly 10 lengths down at one point, straightened with plenty of work to do but ran on well down the far outside to go under by only 33/4 lengths - clocking 22.83 for the final split.
Pure Champion, who raced as Steinbeck for trainer Aidan O'Brien, had run with merit to fill the frame in four of his opening five runs, including a fourth behind the classy Canford Cliffs in the Irish Two Thousand Guineas, before failing in a Grade Two raid of the US. He returned to Ireland to win the Listed Ruby Stakes in August over the 1,691m at Killarney and a three-quarter length success a month later in the Group Three Solonaway Stakes over 1,600m on a soft track at the Curragh.
The four-year-old failed to live up to his overseas promise in his first two Hong Kong starts - finishing well behind Let Me Handle It over the 1,800m and Ambitious Dragon in the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Classic Cup respectively.
A son of English 2,000 Guineas winner Footstepsinthesand and a maternal line with attributes to get a middle-distance, he should prove an effective fellow when finding his best stride over 1,400m to 1,800m.