David Ferraris is having a season he would prefer to forget, but at least he won't have to front Hong Kong Jockey Club officials at the end of the term and has something to look forward to in the future with two promising four-year-olds he unleashed yesterday.
Ferraris reached the performance benchmark of 13 wins for the season with a double from a pair of Private Purchases who broke their local maiden status in stylish fashion.
Strathtay (Zac Purton) caused an upset and beat a trio of more fancied rivals, including the shortest-priced runner of the day, before Holy Mac (Weichong Marwing) delivered on the promise he has shown in his first four starts.
Strathtay won his two starts in Australia by wide margins and now looks ready to emulate that form here after a half-length come-from-behind victory at big odds (42-1).
It hasn't always looked so positive for the son of US sire Southern Image. He followed an encouraging run first up over 1,000m with an erratic effort where he ended up 113/4 lengths last, described as 'embarrassing' by his trainer.
'He drew off the course, he never got a run and every time Andreas Suborics tried to bring him in, he was bouncing off horses and would just run away from them, he was just six deep the whole way,' said Ferraris, who believed the horse had turned a corner mentally.
'He had been a little bit edgy early on, but today when I went to saddle him up he was a different horse,' he said. 'Usually I go to get him out of the stable and he is full of himself, but today he was perfect, the racing experience made the difference, that's all they need.'
Purton said Strathtay's stride length indicated a horse who will appreciate more than the 1,200m, as did the way he motored past Sterling City, Keen Marie and Simple.
'The fast speed suited him and he was able to find some rhythm,' Purton said. 'He just continued to let down from the top of the straight, from the 200m mark he put himself in the race and closed off well. His stride is so big, you would assume he would get over a little bit further.'
While Strathtay showed plenty in his homeland, Ferraris gave a blunt and negative assessment of Holy Mac's overseas form. 'He did very little in England,' he said.
Gelding the son of Tapit was necessary on arrival, Ferraris said, resulting in a more relaxed animal, as was the step up to 1,600m.
'He is a lovely little horse who is very suited to Hong Kong, he has a quiet and beautiful nature,' Ferraris said. 'He just needed a reasonable pace today, to be ridden just off the speed and get just a little bit of luck in running.'
The South African revealed his stable star Sweet Orange might not be done for the season as the trainer considering a start in the Group Three Prince Jewellery & Watch Premier Cup (1,400m) on June 17 with his Classic Mile winner.
'I've freshened him up and he needed it, but these colts need to race,' he said. 'I'm thinking about the seven furlongs, otherwise it's such a long time to leave him without a run, it would be five months.'