Genuine Leader coming along nicely
Genuine Leader showed he has improved significantly with a thundering third-placed performance in the Gloucester Handicap (1,200m) on Wednesday night at Happy Valley.
The Tony Millard-trained four-year-old failed to make an impact in his opening two starts at Sha Tin following two eye-catching trials and trackwork, finishing a mediocre eighth up the straight on November 27 and 10th behind smart Go Baby Go 10 days back.
It was back to the drawing board for Millard and company and they threw the blinkers on him in two all-weather track trials, travelling strongly near the speed to come out once on top and to finish a close fourth on another.
With the added education under his belt, the gelding had his shades this time for Neil Callan.
He was posted five wide early on from gate nine, eventually found cover, rounded the final bend with Dragon Choice furthest out and Always Well keeping him pocketed, shifted to the outside of the latter at the 150m and was motoring in the final 50m to get up a stride ahead of Superior Warrior and Always Well for third, three-quarters of a length behind the winner Bespoke Master. He was clearly finishing fastest of all in the final 400m to clock a good 22.67 seconds.
While the form from the race may prove suspect with Bespoke Master earning his first win at his 20th start and the runner-up earning his stripes twice in Class Five, he finished ahead of some proven performers and rising prospects in Always Well, Dispatcher, Intellectualstride and King Pendragon.
Genuine Leader is a son of stayer Ekraar, a Gran Premio Del Jockey Club winner at San Siro in Italy and former runner-up behind Stay Gold in the 2001 Hong Kong Vase and fourth to Ange Gabriel the following year - and has sired winners Private Road and Ekraar Emperor. His dam, Kingdom Bay mare Du Bois, was a winner of four races at 1,200m and 1,600m, and has produced two Cullen foals, one a winner at 1,400m, but his female line is generally littered with middle-distance or staying types.
The gelding appears one that will benefit from more experience and prove most effective when stretching out over a longer trip. Like most Ekraar progeny, he appears one that should be competitive at both courses and will enjoy the softer Valley surface.