EXCITING New Zealand import Hong Kong Legend stood out as a horse begging to be backed following yesterday's seven barrier trials on the grass down the straight 1,000-metre chute at Sha Tin.
The John Moore-trained three-year-old put up a huge effort on his debut in the territory when only narrowly failing to handle Green Supreme in a 1,000-metre dash, the form of which is working out exceptionally well as Green Supreme has won again since in Class One company.
It was a run which basically defied the weight-for-age scale as young Southern Hemisphere three-year-olds are at a serious disadvantage when taking on the older horses in open handicap company until the latter part of the season.
It was also a run which marked him down as future betting material and that view was emphatically underscored yesterday when he ran out a very strong winner of the sixth trial under French champion Thierry Jarnet.
Hong Kong Legend clocked the second fastest time of the morning, 59.4 seconds on a slowish track, as well as a reasonable final quarter in 23.9 seconds.
Jarnet, by the way, should be followed very closely on Moore-trained horses as he seems to be coming in for the real cream of Moore's rides.
He was on the very promising newcomer, Master Merlin, on Monday's New Year's Day fixture and clearly has taken over from Tony Cruz on Hong Kong Legend.
Moore habitually hits top gear from now until the end of the season so when Jarnet is on board it should pay to take notice.
Championship-leading trainer Patrick Biancone had Deauville back on display and the boom griffin from last season went strongly to the line in the fourth heat won by the Ivan Allan-trained Mr Zillionaire. Deauville appeared to lack a little early zip but he came back on to the bridle over the last 300 metres and the farther they went the better he went.
The David Hayes-trained Fun And Smile looked an absolute picture on his way to running mid-division in the first heat.
The second batch were nothing special though Hankow Star is improving and ran out a solid third. He could pick up a low grade handicap.
Wong Tang-ping's English import American Champion looked good in taking the third trial but he was only beating Another Patrol, the pair pulling clear of a bunch of griffins.
Similarly, Po On King only beat griffins when taking the fifth trial in which Alex Wong Yu-on's youngster All The Glory showed marked improvement from his first trial which is always a very good sign. He is above himself in condition but he does look a very good type.
Galaxy beat little of any consequence when taking the final heat and it may be unwise to read too much into his trial win.
TRIAL RESULTS First trial (1,000 metres): 1, CHINA CRUISE (L. O'Sullivan); 2, Musical Insight (D. Lee); 3, Karamour (T. Whelan). Others (in finishing order): On Diamond Hill, Top Practitioner, Fun And Smile, Perfect Smile, Time Fit, Real Courage, Sugarloaf, Evasive Tactic, Super Swift, Lake Tahoe. Time: 0.59.2 (23.7). Distances: 1 length, 1 length. Winner trained by Lawrie Fownes.
Second trial (1,000 metres): 1, AMERICAN EAGLE (B. Marcus); 2, Souper (P. Schiergen); 3, Hankow Star (C. W. Choi). Others: Concert Kaiser, Super Class, A Secret Weapon, Source Of Life, Rocketeer, Jonka, Hoi Fung Star, Vital Point, Diamond Chance. Time: 1.00.1 (23.8). Distances: short head, short head. Winner trained by Leung Ting-wah.
Third trial (1,000 metres): 1, AMERICAN CHAMPION (P. Schiergen); 2, Another Patrol (B. Marcus); 3, Classa Speed (L. F. Chung). Others: Lung Huang Shan, Mount Kosciusko, Supernova, Win It All, Millions Joy, Easy Beat, Winning Union, N143, Toy Baron, Charlie's Angel, Fireball. Time: 1.00.9 (24.5). Distances: neck, 5 lengths. Winner trained by Wong Tang-ping.
Fourth trial (1,000 metres): 1, MR ZILLIONAIRE (B. Marcus); 2, Sailing (K. Manning); 3, Able Monarch (T. Jarnet). Others: Super Fit, Option, Deauville, Magic Joy, Braveheart, Sky Coast, Smiling, Lionheart, Thunder Bolt. Time: 0.59.0 (23.5). Distances: neck, neck. Winner trained by Ivan Allan.
Fifth trial (1,000 metres): 1, PO ON KING (W. M. Lai); 2, All The Glory (P. Schiergen); 3, Port Hope (L. O'Sullivan). Others: Tremendous Way, Thatsaknowfact, Mr Beliff, Professionalkiller, Magic Power, Giltspur, Lucky Partners, Swifty-Swifty. Time: 1.00.8 (24.5). Distances: 2 lengths, 31/2 lengths. Winner trianed by Gary Ng Ting-keung.
Sixth trial (1,000 metres): 1, HONG KONG LEGEND (T. Jarnet); 2, Super Structure (L. O'Sullivan); 3, Optic Style (C. K. Tsang). Others: Gold Talent, Taliswin, Show Ability, Cash Fortune, Winning Fun, Super Gain. Time: 0.59.4 (23.9). Distances: 3/4 length, 3 lengths. Winner trained by John Moore.
Seventh trial (1,000 metres): 1, GALAXY (L. O'Sullivan); 2, Namjong Again (T. Jarnet); 3, Camelot (B. Marcus). Others: Don Pedro, New Leaf, Kaapargen, Onaroll, Optic Star, The Incomparable, Phantasy Way, Lucky Optimists, Powernamic, I Like It. Time: 0.59.6 (23.5). Distances: 2 lengths, 31/2 lengths. Winner trained by Lawrie Fownes.