Fortune ready to get back in groove
Horseshoe Fortune is not genuine, but again showed he was on his way back with a solid performance in the Class Four Emerald Handicap (1,400m) on Sunday at Sha Tin.
The Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained gelding didn't do much in his opening five Class Threes since returning from a left hind fetlock fracture in June, but put the writing on the wall when fifth behind Best Eleven last month, despite being short of room behind a tiring Free And Easy.
Despite his progressive form and with a drop in grade, Horseshoe Fortune wasn't given too much of a hope carrying 131 pounds from a wide gate for Terry Wong Chi-wai.
He jumped well and was allowed to settle fifth from the rear and six lengths off the honest pace being inflicted by High Return, cornered in five wide, peeled off Fortune Six further out at the 400m and was running on nicely to come up a 3 3/4-length fifth behind revamped Zezao, a head separating him, Mega Champion and John Dory for third. The Irish-bred five-year-old is capable of popping up at any time off his current mark. He was competitive last season when dropping to this level when second over the mile and two fourths from four starts, before returning off a light weight to eventually down Taverner and Sunny Fay over 1,400m in Class Three off a 60-rating in March.
Yiu appears to have the son of Chineur on the right track and it won't be long before he salutes off his mark of 58 over 1,400m or mile at Sha Tin.
There were three high-grade imports lined up in the day's Class Two finale over the mile, but it was John Moore's second stringer Dan Excel who emerged best with a cracking performance behind sensationally-backed favourite Berio.
Dan Excel made his debut off a mark of 89 after stepping out 10 times in Europe for trainer Kevin Prendergast, winning two of three as a two-year-old, including over the eventual Group One winner Roderick O'Connor over 1,400m at Leopardstown. He stepped out seven times as a three-year-old, winning a three-runner Leopardstown Two Thousand Guineas Trial over a mile, before taking on the big boys to finish fifth in Roderick O'Connor's Irish 2000 Guineas and Treasure Beach's Irish Derby, before picking up two Group seconds over 1,800m and 2,000m from his next three and rounding out his overseas stint with a distant fourth in So You Think's Irish Champion Stakes' win.
With such sound overseas form and a positive debut off a single 800m trial success on January 17, Dan Excel gives the stable another legitimate Group performer.