Castle displays mega progress
Trainer Manfred Man Ka-leung isn't likely to threaten his career best last season of 43 victories, despite chalking up win number 32 with Euro Swiftly, but should have been pleased to see the massive improvement shown by Mega Castle on the storm-battered track at Happy Valley on Wednesday evening.
The three-year-old had showed nothing in seven runs, six educational appearances over the 1,000m to 1,400m in Class Four before faltering at Sha Tin after showing speed from a wide gate with a drop into Class Five. He has been showing plenty of enthusiasm in the mornings in the last five weeks.
Dropping back to the 1,200m in the Victory Handicap, Mega Castle was again unwanted in the market at 38-1 odds for Zac Purton. He failed to muster speed and got detached from the field, despite some vigorous riding after jumping well from gate 10, was still eight lengths down at the rear while straightening four deep but showed a nice turn of foot to go under by 31/4 lengths in fifth behind the well-fancied Benefactor.
Mega Castle is a son of the unproven Thunder Gulch stallion Brilliance, a minor winner at a mile and represented by only one other local starter in Wadasurprise, a winner of three races at a mile and 1,800m under both conditions. His dam is the Covetous mare Chaleyer, a versatile race mare who was a five-time winner from 1,000m to 2,800m, and has produced four winners from 12 starters over a variety of distances from 1,200m to 2,150m.
Wadasurprise didn't put it all together until his second season of racing and Mega Castle looks likely to follow in those shoes. He is got plenty of room to move up off a rating of 33 and should be able to light it up next term.
The Man-trained Flashing Guy has proven to be a good money spinner for connections, chalking up a cheque in 10 of 15 starts following a nice second behind the runway winner Tomodachi in the Congratulation Handicap (1,200m).
The four-year-old had been racing well to start the season with a win, second and fourth over the 1,200m. He had a setback when bleeding from both nostrils in a game third behind Harsh Brown a month later at Sha Tin.
Flashing Guy was nurtured back to competition with a dull Sha Tin eighth, but put the writing on the wall when staying on gamely behind High Return last start.
Well backed from 15-1 to 5-1 to start third choice with the important five-pound claim of Vincent Ho Chak-yiu, Flashing Guy rolled forward from gate eight to slot in second and one-off the fence behind favourite Tomodachi, straightened three deep under a hands-and-heels ride to finish a clear second.
The son of Strategic and a Prince Ferdinand mare is all about sprinting and will likely remain in this grade following this performance and be hard to beat next time around.