All Friends showed he was going in the right direction with a solid performance in the Class Three Hong Kong Club Challenge Cup (1,200m) on Wednesday night at Happy Valley.
The Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained gelding had shown progress in each of his four earlier starts, stepping out for the first time off a rating of 67 over 1,400m in mid-October with a one-paced seventh behind smart Fay Fay, a month later with a grinding 73/4-length ninth to Lucky Follow Me over 1,200m, and last month finishing an unlucky 4 1/2-length sixth and a four-length seventh behind Open Sesame over 1,400m.
The New Zealand-bred import was backed this time from $380 to $210 and he travelled well throughout for Derek Leung Ka-chung to finish an eye-catching fifth - five lengths behind runaway winner Happy Yeah Yeah.
The four-year-old son of Chianti isn't going to be a world-beater, but is improving with racing and looks a runner who can eventually find a nice base as a Class Four performer and a competitive runner at the bottom of Class Three with more experience.
Before arriving in the Man yard, All Friends had run three times over 1,200m in New Zealand for trainers Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen as Shaken for a win on soft going and a placing on a good surface.
All Friends is a son of unproven Danehill stallion Chianti, a multiple Group winner of four races from 1,200m to 2,000m in Britain for trainer John Dunlop, whose only progeny in Hong Kong is smart sprinter/miler Tuscan Spirit, who achieved a ratings peak of 113 for five wins.
All Friends is the second foal and the only starter from the grey Mr Henrysee mare Head Enfilade, who was a double winner at 1,000m and 1,100m. His second dam, the Brilliant Invader mare Top Dance, was a winner of eight races from 1,600m to 2,200m in Australia.
While his dam was a natural sprinter, All Friends has plenty of staying stamina in the bottom half of his pedigree and he may eventually be at his best at 1,600m and under with soft going underneath his feet a definite bonus.