Blinkers do the trick for O'Sullivan's new recruit Heartland
The addition of blinkers by trainer Paul O'Sullivan may have had the desired result on Heartland if his trial win at Sha Tin yesterday was any indication.
A winner of three from eight in New Zealand, the Private Purchase ran into stiff opposition at his first two Hong Kong starts last season when under the care of Sean Woods.
On debut he copped a check at a critical stage when fifth behind Eagle Regiment and was then a disappointing last when defeated by rising star Longwah Supreme.
Last start he was caught back in the ruck and raced ungenerously in side winkers, but yesterday he bounced straight to the front in his new headgear and zipped along to lead all the way in his 1,050m all-weather track trial.
The winner's time (1.01.71) was pleasing enough for the standard of horse and it might pay to follow the progress of the second and third horses Xilai Xianzi and Rich Unicorn.
Another trial winner to benefit from a gear change was the Caspar Fownes-trained Meracus. The three-year-old arrived with three wins in Italy, including a Listed juvenile victory over 1,500m.
After four unplaced runs at big odds last season, he was gelded and returned with a 10th over an unsuitable 1,200m.
After rounding the turn third he showed good acceleration when asked for an effort by Vincent Ho Chak-yiu to nip past Let's Goal and early leader Glory Horsie. The time of 1.03.29 was slow, but the way Fownes' horse picked up late is a good pointer to improved performances in the future.
The John Size-trained Glory Horsie showed good speed and wasn't asked for much by Douglas Whyte late. The three-year-old was a solid fourth behind Full Tank on debut in a griffin race and has continued his education with three trials this season.
The first 1,050m trial was an all-star affair, with unbeaten sprinter Entrapment looking superb as he cruised away from a host of stake winners.
Size's unbeaten star stopped the clock in an effortless 1.01.56, with stablemate Flying Blue, who had been forced to trial after a flat performance in the National Day Cup, sitting at his heels the whole way.
In the final heat of the day, Hong Kong Cup winner California Memory returned in fine order for the first serious hit-out of his preparation. Finishing second behind California Memory was another of Whyte's mounts to mark down as a future winner, the Tony Millard-trained Gallant Mambo.