David Hill's classy sprinter Debonair appeared to have put his his troubles behind him as he trialled impressively on the all-weather at Sha Tin yesterday.
The seven-year-old son of Zeditave blazed through the first section of the trial in 21.0 seconds, a time unmatched this season, before being allowed to run to the line unextended in the straight, to finish a close second to Lucky Goal.
There are few horses able to match him over the first part of a race and the gelding looks on course for the Centenary Cup, second leg of the Sprint Championship, in March.
Debonair ran second in this race last season behind Quick Action after looking the winner when still well clear 100 metres out.
It will not be an easy race to win with David Hayes' newcomer Adeewin set to make her debut in the Group Two event, but it is well worth remembering Debonair has an excellent first-up record.
The morning's other heat was won by Happy Moment and the American-bred four-year-old has more than enough ability to win a race off his present rating.
However, the eye-catching efforts in this batch came from Five Stars Shining and the unraced Super Goal Winner.
Wylie Wong has a few promising young horses in his yard and Five Stars Shining's name can certainly be added to that list.
He got to the line in great style to finish only a neck behind Happy Moment and the lightly raced son of Turkoman is going to be winning races.
Tony Cruz's Super Goal Winner has impressed in his work and he added further shine to his obvious potential with a good effort to finish fourth - he should race well when first produced.
Midweek racing returns to the dirt on Wednesday night and for those brave souls prepared to make the trip to Sha Tin, it could pay to keep a close eye on Belarus in the feature race on the card, the Lusitano Challenge Cup.
Wong Tang-ping has nursed Belarus through his preparation this season, and the patient approach seems to be bearing fruit.
His work has picked up markedly in the past couple of weeks and he looked close to his best as he powered over 1,200 metres in 1:15.9 with Sunrisespectacular.
It could be yet another good all-weather meeting for 'Dr Dirt', as his Hong Kong Warrior is another looking ready to win - he produced some of his best work in a solid 1,200 metres in 1:16.8 with Miss Piggy.
Others to work well were Supreme Monarch, Fortissimo, King Of Flash and Room For More.
SHA TIN DIRT TRIALS First trial, 1,050m: 1, LUCKY GOAL (K. M. Chin); 2, Debonair (P. Payne); 3, Medic Pearl (D. Whyte). Others (in finishing order): Kinling Superstar, Powernamic, Jharna, Premiership, Casey's Drum, Sign Of Luck. Time: 1:09.5 (25.5). Distances: head, head. Winner trained by Wong Wai-lit.
Second trial, 1,050m: 1, HAPPY MOMENT (K. M. Chin); 2, Five Stars Shining (W. M. Lai); 3, Fun And Smile (A. Suborics). Others: Megamind, Second To None, Reve De Reve, Fairview Star. Time: 1:10.8 (24.5). Distances: head, head. Winner trained by Peter Ho.