Seven-time champion jockey Basil Marcus has wasted no time in picking up where he left off.
Marcus last season ended his full-time association with Hong Kong racing, deciding to relocate his family to England where his boys are at school. But he's likely to be a regular part-time visitor and has already mustered eight winners from just seven meetings.
Marcus was also a master at jumping on likely future winners and he looks to have picked up the top ride on the Ivan Allan-trained Aucash in the absence of Robbie Fradd this Saturday. Fradd can count himself unlucky, in the short-term here, as Aucash was first reserve at last Sunday's meeting and misses the ride this time round as he's away in Japan representing Hong Kong in the Super Jockeys Series.
Yesterday Marcus was on Aucash at trackwork and this half-brother to the top Australian performer, Melbourne Cup winner Saintly, remains on a good mark of 62. He's entered for the second section of the Class Three, 1,400-metre contest and looks to be a typically progressive Allan youngster.
In yesterday's gallop, Marcus wasn't hanging around on Aucash, who galloped with stablemates New Dynasty and Air Force One. They came through a strong and pleasing 800 metres in a more or less even 47.5 seconds and that is about as fast as Allan asks them to work.
Aucash is developing into a lovely, quality type, as Allan said he would at the start of this season. Aucash was also the griffin Fradd was most taken with last term.
New Dynasty is an interesting type, too. He has bundles of talent, as his wide-margin success last season illustrated. But he had become a nightmare at the gates. If anyone can sort him out, it is the master mentor Allan. The way New Dynasty has been galloping indicates that when he does jump on terms, he's going to go very close. Such an event might not be too far away.
Saturday's second section of the Class Three, 1,400-metre handicap is shaping up to be a most interesting contest. Besides the quality of Aucash, who really should win, it will be interesting to see how Kristofferson shapes on his debut for the Lawrie Fownes' stable and also to check on the progress of Alex Wong Yu-on's I Deliver.
Both were out and about yesterday. Kristofferson worked with his low-grade stablemate Crown Regent, who can certainly run along a bit in the mornings even if he is one-paced come raceday. No one improves them like Fownes and Kristofferson seems to be moving with plenty of fluency.
I Deliver is taking time to come fit and will almost certainly find Class Three too strong for him.
But he looks a good sort, moves nicely in his work, came through 1,200 metres in 1:21.0 yesterday and is well worth watching in the run.
Local trainer Andy Leung Ting-wah took the morning's only trial with his Colourful Era, though he was entitled to win and win well at the ratings.