Last season's batch of griffins may not have been as highly regarded as those of previous years and no real superstar emerged but there have been positive signs lately. Three former griffins won last week and several others performed well.
Natural improvement, maturity and experience have all played a significant part in helping these juveniles unleash some of their raw potential and there is plenty more to come. A key factor is that local owners and trainers are more inclined to give their prized possessions a chance to develop by not over-racing them in the early stages of their careers.
Four Aces ($23) justified favouritism by annihilating his opposition down the straight course (race 69) and is capable of further improvement. He is far more settled in his work and his races. However, the effort of Super Charge to finish second was absolutely outstanding as he drew gate one and ended up nearer the outside rail. He should have finished a clear second, and will relish a step up in trip. He may even have more potential than the winner. Champ De Union struck a tough race, but handles the Valley and is worth keeping safe.
Namjong Treasure appears more one-dimensional but did well to win over the minimum trip at Happy Valley (Race 55). There is room for more improvement and as he is suited by the tight track is capable of rising a good deal higher in the handicap with the depth of fields not quite as strong at the city venue.
The most surprising winner so far was Lucky Sixer (99-1), who led from start to finish in his first attempt over the Sha Tin mile (race 65).
He clocked 22.4 seconds for his final quarter and showed his opposition a clean pair of heels. He has a promising future and will be winning more than once this term. Super Ideal was always going to find it tough with the steady tempo and was game in defeat.
Sunday Delight (99-1), another former griffin with just one run behind him, was noted making up ground in the latter stages of the 1,400-metre contest in what was an improved performance. There is a significant amount of improvement on the horizon, and he would also be suited by a longer journey.
Alex Wong Siu-tan did not race King Of Field (30-1) as a griffin but this fellow gave notice of his potential when third to Mansfield Star (race 57). He appeared a shade one-paced but can be followed next time.
Food Lover (99-1) was another long shot that surprised when finishing third to Felicity over 1,200 metres on the dirt. He displayed marked improvement from his only start this term and is well rated to get off the mark soon.
The ride of Anthony Delpech aboard Light Foot (race 64) demonstrated why he was champion jockey in South Africa, and there is every chance the combination will continue a winning association especially over a longer journey.
The steady pace set by Scintillation made it virtually impossible for the backmarkers but Glorious Rhythm flew home to finish sixth behind Kowloon Star (race 66).
David Hayes should be tickled pink at the way his Derby aspirants Ain't Here (race 71) and Beethoven (race 70) performed in their respective events.
The former settled better in a slowly run race, but still produced an outstanding final quarter to finish fourth, while Beethoven was simply awesome. He is still on the learning curve so it's anyone's guess how far he can go.
Ones to note: Sunday Delight, Super Charge, Glorious Rhythm