He's only been running around in slow barrier trials but the Wong Tang-ping second-season griffin Northern Gold Ball looks all over a winner waiting to happen.
Yesterday he ran a short-head second to the Andy Leung Ting-wah-trained Guess What in the third of three 1,200-metre heats on the Sha Tin dirt track. It was by far the slowest heat of the session and at one minute and 13.3 seconds it was run at a farcical 2.5 seconds slower than the opening heat won by Ricky Yiu Poon-fie's Dr More.
But Northern Gold Ball, who has had a heap of trials in the last couple of months, continues to do everything so easily and finish off his work and trials so well that he is surely one to note when next sent to the sports. He also appears to have done well physically since last season and can be expected to improve from now until the end of term.
As for Guess What, he's showing a bit more of his old trackwork sparkle and could pop up in a low-grade event on the dirt or grass up to a mile. But generally this third heat is not to be trusted as Lightmaster ran a length third and his work going into this had been poor to say the least.
Dr More has not made so much progress, if at all, since a wide-margin and quite breathtaking success as a griffin. He was particularly disappointing on International Day, having shaped as a sure-fire future winner on his previous outing. Yesterday he went as well as could have been wished for when pulling a quality three lengths clear of Leung's last-start winner Gonlargo, who seems to have benefited from a switch in tactics two runs ago which has seen him ridden as cold as cold could be.
It was good to see Chairman's Prize winner Tajasur lead and then eventually run fourth in this heat, confirming that he's on the road to recovery after a serious leg injury earlier in the season.
Chris Cheung's Easy Way made all the running in the second trial to beat Geoff Lane's good worker Flags Up by a couple of lengths but again in a slow time. Leung's Peaceful Century made good ground to be a close third and, following his eye-catching fifth to Exceptional last time and prior to that a good effort at the Valley, he's another that should give a good account of himself when next seen out.
SHA TIN DIRT TRIALS
First trial - 1,200m: 1, DR MORE (W. C. Marwing); 2, Gonlargo (E. Legrix); 3, Night Star (C. K. Tsang); Others (in finishing order): Tajasur, River Dance, Sun Shine River, Speed Cat, Have A Good Time, Sunny Day. Time: 1:10.8 (23.7). Distances: .75 length, 1 length. Distances: 3 lengths, 2 lengths. Winner trained by Ricky Yiu Poon-fai.
Second trial - 1,200m: 1, EASY WAY (S. King); 2 Flags Up (C. Williams); 3, Peaceful Century (R. Fradd); Others: Romantic Venture, Winning Focus, Bravo Longtemps, Cream, Iliketosmile, Treasure Field. Time: 1:12.6 (24.9). Distances: 2 lengths, .75 length. Winner trained by Chris Cheung Ting-pong.
Third trial - 1,200m: 1, GUESS WHAT (R. Fradd); 2, Northern Gold Ball (K. S. Yu); 3, Lightmaster (D. Bonilla); Others: Triumphant Smile, Profit Day, Ganbaria Star, Triple Dragon. Time: 1:13.3 (24.2). Distances: short head , 1 length. Winner trained by Andy Leung Ting-wah.