Smiles from Begg after Partners top show
IT may have been Melbourne Cup day but it was still business as usual during a very busy morning's work and trials at Sha Tin yesterday.
Neville Begg had two reasons to celebrate.
Not only was his son-in-law, the immensely popular and stylish Wayne Harris riding a peach of a race to take the Melbourne Cup, his own stable star, Winning Partners was trialling in exemplary fashion.
The International Bowl hero lost his way a little towards the end of last season when he definitely wasn't working up to his previously high standard and the way he was getting his head up in his work and his races led to speculation that there may be a slight wind problem.
But yesterday he looked in superb condition as he came through on the bridle to take the second of five trials on the grass down the straight 1,000-metre course.
This was a very classy effort in what really was a quality trial field.
This was more than illustrated by the time of 59.9 seconds.
It wasn't quite the fastest overall time of the day but the last quarter, which is the most revealing time statistic, was by far the slickest.
It was fully 0.6 seconds - or some three lengths - faster than the next best performance notched by Plenty Cash in taking out the third heat.
The second trial also saw John Moore's champion sprinter Happy Money kept under a very firm hold from trap to line by stable jockey Brian York.
Runner-up Lucky Glory, from the Derek Cruz stable, showed that he is likely to make further progress with his effort in running second.
Stewards' Cup outsider, Sure Win King, gathered momentum over the closing stages for fourth while Sure Win King's Derby rival, Polar Star, was given an easy time in the mid-division.
There was also plenty to like about the way Ivan Allan's progressive sort, Stellar Express, hit the line in this heat which is set to throw up a stack of future winners.
The best effort in the third heat came from Stephen Leung's Flying High who looks worth following closely.
This subscription griffin has yet to race but there has always been much to like about him, his work and his breeding.
He is out of Tacama who was also the dam of the now retired Octagon Star who, barring his unfortunate injury run, would almost certainly have developed into a top Class One sprinter-miler for Alex Wong Siu-tan.
Tacama also threw the more than useful sprinter handicapper, Eezeepeezee, back in England and, in Flying High, looks to have produced another that can go.
A whole bunch of first-season griffins trialled in the final heat with Wong Tang-ping's Hawky probably the best of them though at this stage of the season it is rather too early to be drawing hard-and-fast conclusions about the babies, and Hawky did have experience on his side as this was his second trial.
The good thing about him is that he was showing plenty of progress from his first to his second trial and that is a cast-iron sign of a griffin with ability.
Prior to the trials there was also a number of gallops on the grass track with Patrick Biancone's former Derby winner, Helene Star, confirming he is very much on the comeback trial with a most impressive hitout alongside Royal King Prawn.
Helene Star looks to be over the leg problems which plagued him last season and could well be ready to explode back onto the local scene.
David Hill's Green Maple went well on the main all-weather track when holding Time Fit.