Nicholson will be hard to beat over longer trips
David Hall has been taking his time educating Nicholson, but his patience will be rewarded when he steps him out over a longer trip following an eye-catching fifth in the Chengdu Handicap (1,200m) at Sha Tin last Saturday.
Nicholson never hit the placings while being groomed over an unsuitable 1,000m at both courses last season, drawing awkward gates each time, but still flashed signs of potential.
Resuming this time, the gelding was carrying a light weight in the capable hands of Derek Leung Ka-chun but as fate would have it, he was again drawn wide in gate 12. He was well punted before the jump, more than halving his quote from 24-1 to 11-1.
Nicholson faded back immediately after the break, shifted widest out at the 350m with five lengths to make up and came with a relentless move to finish a length fifth behind the improved Mega Champion - a Black Book choice from the September 14 meeting. He clocked the fastest final 400m split in 23.19 seconds on the good track.
The four-year-old has been crying out for a longer trip. His sire Niello was a Group One AJC Spring Champion Stakes (2,000m) winner and brother to 'The Black Flash' Lonhro, a Group One winner of 11 races up to 2,000m, including the VRC Australian Cup.
This is despite his female line being made of purely sprinter/milers, including his second dam Sardana, who was a winner up to 1,428m, among them the Group Three BATC Coca Cola Classic over 1,200m. His unraced dam Wrigley is a daughter of Bubble Gum Fellow, who was a winner in Japan of the Group One Tenno Sho over 2,000m.
Elsewhere, John Moore had a hot hand but came away empty. However, the trainer will be proud of the performance of Admiration and Destined For Glory in their respective races.
Admiration flashed immense potential last season with four wins and three placings from eight starts. He was beaten for speed but clocked a sparkling final quarter in 22.53 seconds to go under by three lengths to the unbeaten Entrapment.
Destined For Glory took some time to find his legs, scoring two wins at the back end of last term. Up against a stellar National Day Cup line-up, Destined For Glory finished off strongly to edge Beauty Flash and Sunny King for second, a distant 2 1/2 lengths behind the mighty Ambitious Dragon.