The Caspar Fownes-trained Peppermint turned heads with a promising performance in the Class Four Friendship Bridge Handicap (1,000m) last Saturday at Sha Tin.
The three-year-old made his debut at odds of 11-1 and Brett Prebble allowed Peppermint to find his feet, had to shy away from an erratic Super Thunder inside the 600m, weaved a run around the tiring Passionate at the 300m before running home powerfully to be a clear second behind Fair Navigator - clocking a swift 22.26 seconds for the final 400m.
He is a New Zealand-bred son of the versatile Danehill stallion Keeper, a Group One winning sprinter-miler in Australia, who is making a name for himself in Hong Kong over the past few years with 17 winners from 22 starters, including Special Days, who achieved a peak rating of 123 for a win in last season's Group Three Centenary Vase.
Peppermint's maternal line is littered from top to bottom with winners at a sprint-to-mile distance, including his own dam Sadie Belle, a daughter of Exploding Prospect who collected five wins at a range of 1,200m to 1,400m. The first starter of three foals from Sadie Belle, Peppermint looks a nice prospect on both turf and dirt. He showed ability in three New Zealand trials for Lance Noble when striking soft track conditions. He also caught the eye in his trials and workouts at Sha Tin.
The Me Tsui Yiu-sak-trained Rumba King is another who is ready to put his best foot forward. The three-year-old - having his second start - still looked green, but finished off well for fifth in the same race.
In his first outing last month, Rumba King was detached from the field after running out abruptly following a bad check before closing off soundly for sixth behind Dane Patrol.
He is by the sire King Cugat, who was a multiple Group winner on both surfaces over 1,600m to 2,200m in the US and has sent out four winners from a limited nine foals, including the useful miler and Happy Valley performer Operation Secret.
Lesser graders Star Of Fame, from the Tony Millard yard, and the Tony Cruz-trained Floral Picasso made solid bids for fourth and sixth in the Class Three Macau-Taipa Bridge Handicap (1,400m) and also appear ready to turn the corner.