Woods has young guns ready to fire
Sean Woods has made a slow start to 2011-12, but if the barrier trials of Sir Eagles and Kensworth Kid earlier this week are any indication, the Englishman has a pair of future winners about to make their debuts.
The duo finished first in heats at Tuesday's marathon 12-batch session at Sha Tin, in a week were trial watchers were given 22 to dissect.
Sir Eagles is a Private Purchase with an impressive Italian record and will start of the tough mark of 86. The three-year-old brings a top-notch CV of four wins, having never missed a place, from six starts. He was a dominant three-length winner in a 1,000m Listed sprint in Milan last start.
After missing his planned Hong Kong debut last month due to lameness, the gelding showed he was carrying no ill effects of the setback with a smart sprint at the end of his 1,000m turf trial.
Brett Doyle had Sir Eagles settled in behind runners after jumping one-off the grandstand rail. After relaxing back to near last, Doyle asked for an effort and got sharp acceleration out of the youngster over the last 300m.
His closing sectionals were good enough to overhaul the front runners and pull away to win by 13/4 lengths, with the 107-rated, John Moore-trained stayer Destined For Glory finishing off nicely in second.
Judging by his 1,000m trial win, Kensworth Kid could strike early of his 52-mark.
With the four-year-old stepping out at the Hong Kong trials for the first time - he won a 1,000m trial in New Zealand last year - Mark du Plessis didn't push the gelding hard.
As Merchant Dragon tore along in front, Kensworth Kid seemed to cruise at his own steam in a professional manner. When Du Plessis slipped him some rein, he put rivals away in fine style to score by 13/4 lengths.
First trial was a star-studded affair with Blaze King beating home Eagle Regiment and Admiration. Most firing up the 1,000m straight course at 7am were well-exposed, but a John Size-trained International Sales Griffin, Classic Jewellery, was thrown into the mix and showed he might be above average.
The three-year-old finished 10 lengths off the winner in his fourth trial, but in true Size-style, Whyte didn't knock his mount around and he kept pace when needed and moved past a couple late.
Brett Prebble paired with a couple of decent triallists - including unraced Catch Your Eyes, who finished second in an 800m jump-out.
After settling midfield, Prebble gave the David Hall-trained a slap with the whip and he responded by moving quickly to the lead. Keen Marie (Me Tsui Yu-sak/Du Plessis) went with the challenger and held him off on the line, but it was the change of gears from the runner-up that caught the eye.
Prebble also climbed aboard another Hall charge, Tarrega, who was a solid fifth on debut last month.
Prebble took a decent hold of the strong-looking gelding and four-year-old finished off professionally in third.
Yet another unraced PPG won an 800m turf trial later, when All Delight showed some quality with a three-and-quarter length win in his first trial. The Tsui-trained gelding jumped beautifully for Tye Angland, who let the horse find his feet.
Racing up the centre of the track, Angland seemed to have his work cut out keeping the four-year-old's mind on the job, but his athleticism shone through as he hit the line hard.