Dragon, Xtension prove they are serious players
In the past two seasons, international handicappers seem to have downgraded slightly the Dubai World Cup and Duty Free races in their international classifications, but that shouldn't take any gloss off the wins by Xtension and Ambitious Dragon in the Champions Mile and QE II Cup.
At the beginning of the season, the whereabouts of Hong Kong's next crop of serious horses was something of a mystery, but the four-year-olds this season have solved it in no uncertain terms, with some excellent help from the year older Beauty Flash.
Unlike the 2010 Derby, which was a blanket finish and the suspicion was that the primary players there would need to take a decent step to be proper horses at the highest level this season, the 2011 edition had the characteristics that serious form. A good time and a strong margin spread between the first two and the rest were aspects of the finish that said Ambitious Dragon and Xtension were right up to international company and they have proved that.
By extension, no pun intended, that put Lucky Nine in the same bracket and there are other four-year-olds from this crop who will make their way to winning good races later as well.
Five-year-old Beauty Flash hasn't let anyone down on the promise he showed a year ago and California Memory has been something of a surprise find but confirmed on Sunday that he is here to stay, albeit with a style which might make luck his constant nemesis. With the three-year-olds Captain Sweet and Admiration also with their best days ahead, the top line now looks to be in solid hands as the older former stars fade from view.