FORWARD thinking was the order of the day at yesterday's Sha Tin trackwork session.
With only four meetings left work mornings are as much about spotting winners for the opening exchanges next season as they are about getting the holiday money for the summer.
Derek Cruz's progressive subscription griffin, Ming River, was a case in point.
He showed good improvement last time to cross the line fractionally off the placegetters in the race won by Explorer and yesterday he worked better than ever when coming home marginally ahead of stablemate Actium in a solid hit-out.
Actium needed his run when sent out over 1,235 metres at Happy Valley last time out but also worked well yesterday. He looks ready to step up significantly on that performance, especially over farther.
Geoff Lane's lightly-raced Irish import Zeus ran with promise down the straight course on his Hongkong debut behind Super Falcon. He is coming to hand and yesterday showed a bit of dash over the final 100 metres of his work to close on stablemate Nickels King.
Declan Murphy, who rode Zeus, also put Tony P. H. Chan's private purchase griffin American Star through a pleasing piece on the grass where he worked every bit as well as impressive last-start winner, Fortune Ride.
American Star has an intriguing Class Four entry coming up on Saturday.
As he was working on the grass, Ivan Allan's second lot were out on the two sand tracks. Many Treasure was the pick of the bunch. He disappointed on the equitrack last time but has never gone better in the mornings than in his last two pieces and is another enticing runner at the weekend.
Allan's last-start winner Fukien Boy also impressed as he kept under a tight hold by Basil Marcus in company with Jharna, an unraced Australian-bred private purchase griffin.
Lawrie Fownes is looking for every winner he can lay his hands on as he pursues John Moore to the line in the tussle for training honours. He may just have another one lurking there in his well bred but bad-legged The Winning Way.
The son of Marscay was noted staying on well down the straight 1,000-metre course last time out and has been doing plenty of steady long work since then.
First trial: 1, WIND DANCER (G. Childs); 2, Sound-N-Right (C. K. Tse); 3, Endeavour (D. Murphy). Others (in finishing order): Eastern Saga, Fastabob, Sterling Town, Hongkong Spirit, Profit Taker, Wonderful Moment, Owners' Success. Time: 0.58.5 (23.6). Distances: Short Head, 2 lengths. Winner trained by Derek Cruz.
Second trial: 1, ROYAL HORSE (C. W. Choi); 2, Our Pal (D. Murphy); 3, Green Supreme (D. Lee). Others: Holy Smoke, Song Of The Sea, Muhim, Trustwell, Bounty, Broad Shoulder, Champion Mascot, Fast Foward. Time: 0.59.4 (21.9). Distances: 1 length, nk. Winnertrained by Wong Tang-ping.
Third trial: 1, KING WILLIAM (K. Chu); 2, Cop The Cash (J. Marshall); 3, All Thrills (B. Marcus). Others: Stratos, Winford, Gomile, Bohi Dragon, Horse Delight, Always Happy, Hercules. Time: 0:59.4 (24.3). Distances: 1/2 length, 21/2 lengths. Winner trained by David Oughton.