Dragon's Pal fired up for Valley debut
LOCAL handler Tony P. H. Chan has been enjoying a highly successful second season, sending out 15 winners and 14 horses to run the quinella.
He also looks to have some nice young horses waiting in the wings, not least his unraced private purchase griffin, Dragon's Pal, who impressed yet again when dominating the first of two barrier trials run on the all-weather surface at Sha Tin yesterday.
Dragon's Pal made all the running under Johnny Ho to score pulling up by a facile 10 lengths from Radiant Sun who ran home from just beyond mid-division for second.
Chan's American bred is entered to run in one of the two griffin events over 1,235 metres at Happy Valley next Wednesday night and on this and other trackwork showings he is very much one to keep on the right side of in a very interesting griffin affair.
Dragon's Pal is bred entirely for speed and he has that imposing look of a sprinter. His dam won twice at 1,200 metres and is from a good family while his sire was also a winning sprinter.
He first caught the eye back on November 23 when it was his impressive build rather than the time he ran which was noted.
After a slight training setback which saw him miss work around Christmas time and the calendar New Year, those early impressions were confirmed when his work started to increase in late February and early March.
His one problem has been a tendency to jump slowly and his initial jump outs and his first trial saw him blow the start before showing a tremendous and powerful burst of speed.
Yesterday he jumped much better and that speed was even more apparent as he just pulled further clear of his rivals.
His griffin event will not be any walkover, though, as John Moore has his Peony in the race and if he has recovered from the ailment which saw him withdrawn from the Happy Valley Vase on veterinary grounds, then he would be a danger.
Patrick Biancone's Aqua Princess has really started to blossom in the last fortnight or so and she is worth respecting.
She started to go better at the beginning of the month when putting in an improved effort in a barrier trial down the straight.
Then on Thursday she pulled clear of the usually good worker, Jade Signet, in a very strong piece from the barriers at the top of the back straight.
She may just find 1,235 metres on the short side but when these young horses start to come to themselves it can happen in a matter of days and it is imperative to catch them on this upward curve.
John Moore's Django underlined this point a couple of seasons ago. Having trialled badly, he all of a sudden started improving out of sight in the space of a week and another trial before simply trotting up at very big odds.
This griffin event also sees Stephen Leung's Congratulations in the line up.
He is a bit like Aqua Princess and Django. Having shown very little in a trial and his work, he has begun to come to himself over the last fortnight.
He showed very good speed in a trial last week and yesterday put in another promising piece of work when coming home in 24.8 seconds for his final 400 metres with his speedy stablemate, Saafi, who does look to have improved since joining Leung who has made a big impression in his first season with a licence.
Successful Years would have needed his first run back from a spell when chasing home Got It Made the other day and is yet another griffin with a future in Dragon's Pal's event.
And so, too, is Peter Tse Yan-sid's Golden Hope who was also out and about yesterday, looking all the better for his debut run.
So it all adds up to a fascinating griffin race where much can be learned from a punting point of view for next season.
But one thing did stand out from yesterday morning's first trial. Dragon's Pal, in particular, looks very much a cut above the average griffin recruit.
The second trial saw another win for the Chan camp with his Royal Horse running home strongly to score from Raider's Luck who has already had one run since joining Lawrie Fownes from Neville Begg.