Trainer Michael Chang Chun-wai scored his first career Group-race victory when lightly weighted Vital Flyer was too quick for his rivals in the Group Three Sha Tin Sprint Trophy, but admitted he has limited options with his one-dimensional speedster because of his inability to handle a turn.
Vital Flyer's tendency to hang in races around a bend mean he is a liability on any other course, but he at least found a niche - adding yesterday's sprint feature to a last-start upset win over Amber Sky to his record.
"He is only happy running in a straight line," Chang said. "There's not many options for him ... but from now on, we will only ever be running in straight races. We'll just have to keep him fresh and come back here, the next race hopefully won't be too far away."
A fourth in the 2011 Kent & Curwen Centenary Sprint Cup indicates Vital Flyer has some class - but the first Group race of the season was a relatively sub-standard vintage anyway. The winner was one of only two horses of the seven in the race with a previous course and distance triumph, and the other, Blaze King, isn't considered to be in the top bracket of sprinters. Blaze King showed why when he led the field up and compounded badly to finish last as favourite, as Vital Flyer scored by a comfortable three-quarters of a length carrying 113 pounds.
"It wasn't a strong field, at least not as strong as some previous years," Chang said. "Honestly, before the race I was quite confident, with the light weight and he can really run a race over this course here, but unfortunately, I just don't think he can handle a turn. Jeff Lloyd told me that if we had a six-furlong straight course here, he could be a Group horse, but the turn brings him undone. He always hangs and mentally, he is a little bit smart for his own good."
Winning jockey Howard Cheng Yue-tin admitted that at set-weights conditions, there was "no way" Vital Flyer could compete with horses like top-weight Captain Sweet.
"My horse was in top form, he did a great grass gallop during the week," Cheng said. "This will put him up at least 10 points I think, and if he ends up more than 105, then there's no more races for a while. He just can't get a turn, and we don't want to risk him, because if he fails again, he will have to trial again. His mouth is no good, he is sensitive and hangs badly, but up the straight I can handle him. I've got used to it, and sometimes a jockey and a horse can have a good balance and chemistry together."