Freak Zone and Cape Canaveral turned in a gallant showing in defeat in the Class Three Garden Road Handicap (1,400m) at Sha Tin and should open their accounts as the season progresses.
Cape Canaveral pinged to the front from gate 14 to lead under Richard Fourie, with Freak Zone quietly parked on his back for Tye Angland. Freak Zone assumed a narrow lead from Cape Canaveral at the 250m before succumbing by a short-head in a thrilling battle over the final 100m to Victory Master. Cape Canaveral continued to fight on well and was only pipped in the final few metres by Adoration for fourth - 23/4 lengths off the winner.
The Caspar Fownes-trained Freak Zone put the writing on the wall in his debut last season when whacking away behind Nice Folks after having to recover from a tardy break over this trip on National Day.
The New Zealand-bred four-year-old is a son of short-course specialist Not A Single Doubt, whose half-dozen runners include smart Happy Valley performer Tai Sing Yeh and up-and-coming Dance For Gold.
Cape Canaveral, the good looking and moving son of exciting Starcraft, an 11-time winner of five Group Ones from 1,400m to 2,400m in both hemispheres and a sprint influential female line; arrived last season in the Tony Cruz yard after winning his final run at Sale over 1,400m from four starts in Australia.
Cape Canaveral looks to have matured during the break and, off a mark of 64, appears another with ample room to move up the ladder.