The Almond Lee-trained Super Team may have displayed nothing since arriving from New Zealand, but the five-year-old showed he is finding his feet with an encouraging performance in the Class Four Chevalier Property Management Handicap (1,400m) on Sunday at Sha Tin.
It was an improved performance on his previous three efforts. Lee cut short a two-run campaign in March with intermittent lameness after the horse never finished better than 10th in two 1,400m runs in January.
He returned on October 10 over 1,200m at Sha Tin for a flat 11th behind B Choice over 1,200m and 27 days later was a shade better eighth behind Shiny Day over this course and distance.
Super Team appeared to have strengthened up for his two earlier runs and was showing plenty in the mornings, but was still unwanted at 89-1 odds despite a 109-pound weight assignment.
The chestnut gelding broke midfield from gate 10, was still nearly eight lengths down at the rear of the field while straightening six wide and let down with purpose to go down by 21/4 lengths to Matsukaze in seventh.
He is a son of the Red Ransom stallion Handsome Ransom, who has won with his only other three starters in Hong Kong - Handsome Zulu (two wins at 1,650m and 1,800m at Happy Valley), Finezza (two wins at 1,400m and 1,600m at Sha Tin) and High-Loft (1,000m at Sha Tin); mated to the unraced Marscay mare L'Affair, the dam of two other raced foals, including the Singaporean winner Silver Element (by Pentire), a four-time winner from 1,400m to 2,400m.
There is also a strong influence for the dirt in the bottom line of his pedigree and, with a 1,192-pound build, the chestnut gelding will have to be kept safe when Lee makes the decision for him to tackle the all-weather track.
And if the handicapper decides to give him a point of relief for his latest positive effort or if all doesn't immediately pan out at his next run or two, Super Team should find his way into the bottom grade off a mark of 41 where he can earn his stripes.
Trainer Peter Ng Bik-kuen is having a stellar campaign by his own standards and new recruit, Horse Of Flame, is another who will add his name to the winners' list.
The Irish-bred three-year-old produced an eye-catching fourth on his debut in the Class Three Chevalier Aluminium Engineering Handicap (1,200m) on the all-weather track.Topics: Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year Phillip Woo Sports Phillip.Woo@Scmp.Com