The evidence of yesterday's Sha Tin trackwork session pointed to a much better 1997 for long-standing trainer Bruce Hutchison. Leaving aside the enormous inner strength he has had to find to recover from, and face the consequences of, an horrific car crash, there has not been too much go right for him on the race track either. He has only sent out two winners from 60 runners but there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Delve a little further and it can be seen that he's also sent out a hugely frustrating nine seconds and an examination of his stable shows there are a number of nice horses positioned to go well in the New Year.
There's hardly a person in racing who would begrudge the battling white-haired mentor from Perth a change of fortune and yesterday's work pointed to the likes of Word From Rome, Trobis, Spartan, Fred and even Perkyman being poised to salute the judge. Word From Rome went firmly into the notebook when a promising fourth to Super Horse II last time, appreciating the return to Sha Tin. Prior to that he hadn't handled Happy Valley. Yesterday he worked on the inside of stablemate Onaroll, who is another to bear in mind but maybe after another run, and came through strongly on the bit in the closing stages. Word From Rome, who does not have the best of legs and thus has been difficult to train, now looks to be in the pink and a move to a mile would probably suit, given the way he hit the line behind Super Horse II.
Trobis had fair form in Australia where he raced for, as he is now, by the Pakistan Derby-winning owner Pervey Hussain for whom Hutchison has done so well with Mughal Prince. It has taken Trobis time to acclimatise since arriving, but he now appears to be getting it together and yesterday seemed to shade his gallop with Spartan who was unlucky in running last time when a fast finishing fourth to Thunder Bolt. Spartan, himself, remains in good nick. The splendidly named Fred went considerably better than the unraced Irish two-year-old Mosi-Oa-Tunya.
Fred may just need one more run in a griffin event to reach rock solid condition, but he does have plenty of ability. Perkyman has flown the flag for the Hutchison stable with some distinction this campaign, winning twice and both times in prestigious Cup events. He was given an absolute gem of a ride from Larry Cassidy last time, as Hutchison was the first to appreciate, so it is going to be hard for him to improve on that defeat of Celestial Fortune. But yesterday he positively flowed to the line on the main work track and is moving as well as he's ever gone. In other work yesterday, the Tony Cruz-trained All Good looked in fantastic shape.
Every horse that moves to Cruz appears to put on a considerable amount of condition and muscle, irrespective of from whence they came - big trainer or little trainer. The Ivan Allan pair of Super Horse II and Active Way impressed while David Hayes' Wonderful Winners, who caught the eye in a trial last Friday, went nicely again yesterday as did Lawrie Fownes' Satisfaction Smile. There were also two trials on the dirt with Geoff Lane's Warm Winter looking all over a future winner as he was given an easy time of things out wide in the second of them.
SHA TIN ALL-WEATHER TRIALS First trial _ 1,050 metres: 1, SINCERELY YOURS (K. M. So); 2, Key Man (T. Quinn); 3, Concert Fortune (K. C. Tsang). Others (in finishing order): Wasabi, King Of Stationery, Corveteer, Eastern Hero. Time: 1.03.0 (23.7). Distances: 6 lengths, 13/4 lengths. Winner trained by Lawrie Fownes.
Second trial _ 1,050 metres: 1, RAYMONDO (H. K. Yim); 2, Orlando Magic (M. Kinane); 3, Proud Of You (L. Cassidy). Others: Chiu Chow Warrior, Walk Big, Warm Winter, Gold Venture, Spring Of Windsor, Make It Easy, Happy Forever, Long Reign. Time: 1.02.8 (23.6). Distances: 2 lengths, 4 lengths. Winner trained by Wylie Wong Wai-lit.