Century Horse, who won the second of two dirt trials at Sha Tin yesterday morning, will shortly be losing his maiden status.
The New Zealand-bred youngster went into most notebooks after his seasonal debut last month when he was a flying second to Hong Kong Legend in a Happy Valley event over 1,200 metres.
Jockey Brett Doyle, who was aboard in the trial, explained in the inquiry room he had elected to steady Century Horse who then shifted in behind another horse before coming home strongly.
However, Century Horse did race greenly and hung away from Tea For Gentlemen which was also shifting ground. The run of Tea For Gentlemen in the final event at Sha Tin today will give a further guide to the chances of Century Horse next time.
He impressed in this trial where Doyle had him travelling in fourth position in the run. Century Horse then cruised up in the straight to go to the lead in the 1,150-metre trial and win by a cosy length from Bruin Supreme.
The runner-up has hit no heights but that tends to be irrelevant because Century Horse is better judged on how he did it - and how he has been working. He has certainly come on and will not be as green next time he steps out.
Trainer Andy T. W. Leung has been patient with Century Horse and it should pay dividends.
Highball, who finished third a further neck back, has had plenty of racing with little to show for it to date. He has slithered down the handicap and may also have acclimatised. The possible combination of actors suggests that the Geoff Lane-trained galloper is a definite each-way hope in his next couple of outings.
On the work track, French jockey Freddie Sanchez was busy and there was fast work from a few horses now stabled with David Oughton and Peter Chapple-Hyam.
Tres Vite is not going to get the ground he needs on the turf but could be worth risking on the dirt. He looked in good shape for Sanchez in a brisk hit-out yesterday and returned looking sharp.
Strategic Move worked with Sky's The Limit and his quick 1:22.2 was cut out in good style.
The clocking of 1:15.0 flat for Concert Star raised a few eyebrows and this fellow is going in the right direction. Felix Coetzee was not hanging about and Concert Star answered up with zest and resolution.
Scenic Star, who has his admirers, also went fast and appeared to be doing it well. He should be borne in mind for the right Class Three event.
Others to work well included Danetop, Good Spirit, Eastern Fortune, Spice Up and Qui Vivra Verra.
Yesterday's Sha Tin dirt trials First trial _ 1,150m: 1, DEBONAIR (F. Sanchez); 2, Ningbo Warrior (F. Coetzee); 3, Colourful Era (W. S. Yu). Others (in finishing order): Starlight Supreme, Spectacular Win, Brilliant Lad, Friends, Coq D'Or, Slew's Success, Pegasus Star. Time: 1:07.6 (23.8). Distances: .75 length, 4 lengths. Winner trained by David Hill.
Second trial _ 1,150m: 1, CENTURY HORSE (B. Doyle); 2, Bruin Supreme (M. W. Leung); 3, Highball (E. Legrix). Others: Devotee, Peak Power, Star Of Wah Yan, Double Wins, Pakistan Hero, Full Throttle, Multi-Might, Dynamic Tension, Smiling Union. Time: 1:10.1 (25.8). Distances: neck, 1 length. Winner trained by Andy Leung Ting-wah.
TRACK TRACKWORK Robin Parke