The end of January signals the opening of the griffin season and the running of the Tai Tam Plate, where trainer David Hayes is expected to land the first griffin race of 2003-04 with Great Win.
This son of VRC Lightning Stakes (Aus-Gr 1) winner General Nediym was highly impressive in his only trial down the straight course over 800 metres. He looks the typically well-educated type from Down Under, with plenty of ability to match the quality of his tuition.
Great Win's trial was impressive because he led from start to finish in a dominant display. His preparation leading up to his debut has been excellent - typical of what we have come to expect from Hayes - and although he is likely to jump at short odds, he should prevail.
John Moore has enjoyed more success than most trainers in the griffin ranks over the past couple of seasons and given Legionnaire finished a creditable second to Great Win in his most recent turf trial, he does look worthy of respect. The well-bred son of Danehill was purchased at the International Sale and leaves the impression he will appreciate further distance in time.
But he clearly has a decent engine and must be kept safe. Moore also has Winning Power taking part, but this fellow has generally failed to impress in his work or trials. He found little under pressure in his 800 metres turf trial on January 20, and may need more time.
Tony Millard-trained Wonderful Boy led for most of the way before finishing second over 800 metres on the same day Great Win won his trial.
Wonderful Boy clocked 0.7 seconds slower than Great Win and although he shaped nicely in this piece of work, he didn't look as though he can go much quicker. Wonderful Boy has also had a thorough preparation leading up to his debut and this son of boom Nureyev stallion Fasliyev is one to add to the shortlist.
Hayes' Real Thrills was never pressured at any stage in the same heat, and went to the line under a comfortable hold from Thomas Yeung Kai-tong.
Real Thrills races in the familiar colours of Alan Lam Man-bun - who enjoyed so much success with All Thrills Too - and this fellow appears to have his fair share of ability, with plenty of improvement to come.
Ivan Allan has a decent chance in the event with Man On The Moon, who showed plenty of promise in his 1,000 metres trial on January 6. This imposing gelding has performed attractively in general work and looks fitter than most juveniles from this yard at a similar stage of his preparation.
Couldn't Care Less, a son of the versatile sire Marju, certainly looks as though he still has plenty to learn based on his two trials, the first of which came on November 18. Although he has been in work longer than most of his rivals today, he has left the impression he is a long way from the finished product and should need more time.
Sean Woods has given Bauhinia plenty of work leading up to his first career start, and there has been above-average ability shown in his work in general. His only trial, which came on January 20, was not quite as impressive. Based on that run, he would do well to figure in the finish but he does look fitter than most going into this event.
Manfred Man-trained Bingson looks safely held, based on what he's shown in trackwork and barrier trials. He didn't show much promise in either of his turf trials in January and may simply need more time.
Peter Ho's Classa For Ever has displayed some improvement in his work since his most recent trial on January 6. He could be a value chance to sneak into the frame.
Later in the day, the formidable partnership of Dennis Yip Chor-hong and Douglas Whyte has an excellent chance to keep the winners rolling in with San Lorenzo in Race Seven. The progressive galloper has won his past two starts, both over 1,200 metres, and with the return to the same course and distance today he looks capable of winning again.
John Size and Shane Dye will be hoping the step up to a mile in Race Nine benefits Palette Natural, who has been racing in great heart in recent weeks. With the rail in the 'C' position it could be suitable for swoopers late in the day, which will certainly be favourable to Palette Natural.