Sterling effort as change of tactics unleashes City's powerful dash
Brett Prebble had resigned himself to riding for luck on Sterling City, but a change of tactics exposed new tactical options for the "unassuming" gelding, as he put away a Class Three field that included the shortest-priced favourite of the day.
After drawing 13 on the John Moore-trained four-year-old, Prebble dropped back at the start, but in doing so, unearthed a blistering sprint as Sterling City blew by rivals, including 1.6 hot-pot The Peak.
"From that awkward draw, John didn't want him out deep and having a gut buster and not getting in," Prebble said. "So I let him jump and see where he's comfortable. I wasn't expecting a great deal and that turn of foot surprised me.
"His trial wasn't great and his work nothing special and he comes out and wins like that. He is an unassuming sort of horse which helps in this environment, and I think ridden the way he was today, he can run 1,400m."
Moore revealed the horse's poor trial because of a bacterial infection, which he had clearly put behind him yesterday, as the Australian-bred Private Purchase Griffin paraded beautifully and delivered a third win at his seventh start.
"We can probably develop different strategies with him now that he has shown that he can come off the speed," Moore said. "He looks like a solid Class Two horse, and that's where he will be next start. You won't see him until next month over 1,200m again."
Prebble had earlier won on a former Moore galloper, Surrounded, now in the care of David Hall - who has extracted two wins from the five-year-old's last three starts. After listening to the testimony on Surrounded from Hall and Prebble, it's clear why the gelding was shown the door at Moore's yard.
"He is not really a Hong Kong horse," Prebble said. "He is a bit of a nutcase and he doesn't hold his condition. He has got an engine but just not the ideal temperament for here. It took David a few runs to work the horse out, but his form was good at the end of last season when he did work him out."
Hall added: "You only have to look at him to see why John didn't want him, he has a poor constitution, but at least his mind has settled down."
After yesterday's strong 1,600m effort, Prebble said 2,200m at Happy Valley could be a suitable future option.
Olivier Doleuze was given a costly two meeting suspension for his ride on Expectator in the race, adding to another two-meeting ban, that will see him miss the ride on Zaidan in the Sha Tin Trophy on October 28. Andreas Suborics was also given a two-meeting carless riding suspension for his ride on Forever Elation in race eight.