Richard Gibson has never hidden his ambition to be a big race trainer in his new home, and the Englishman says four-year-old series contender Gold-Fun is typical of a quality batch of new recruits on a "different level" to the stock he had at his disposal in his first season.
Gibson surged to 35 wins in his rookie year with mainly lower-grade success, but an off-season clean out saw him replace mainly second-hand, fix-me-up projects with a group of pricey Private Purchases he has hand-picked with feature races in mind.
It has been a slow start to 2012-13 - a double took him to 11 wins - but after Gold-Fun made it two-from-two with a comfortable half-length victory, Gibson said the Irish-bred's next start would be in the Classic Mile and was bullish about his team's chances as the new year progressed.
"I said at the beginning of the season, that I've been waiting for the "P" horses to come good in January," Gibson said, referring to the letter "P" branded on this season's new horses. "The other new horses ran well today too, we've got more coming up this month and next month as well. They're on a different level and a much better standard than last year, and this guy is a great example, we selected him ourselves and he is a very good recruit for Hong Kong."
Gibson also had T-Bolt and Glacier Blue place yesterday, and is looking forward to the local debut of rumoured US$2 million purchase, and fellow four-year-old, Akeed Mofeed in a 1,400m race for horses rated 80 to 105 next Saturday.
While Gibson didn't want to talk about the Derby, calling it "unprofessional to speculate about a race that is three months away", he was happy to have a horse who was race-fit and in-form for the first leg of the four-year-old events.
"We're going into the Classic Mile with an improving horse who is in great shape. I thought today was a very easy and professional win," he said.
Gold-Fun's cause was helped by a beautiful ride from Douglas Whyte, who was crediting the gelding's tactical speed and tractability as the reason he was able to land a box-seat position from gate nine.
"He helps you out in races, makes your job less complicated," Whyte said. "I don't ride 116 pounds very often, and I told Richard with the light weight I wanted to be positive on him, because he is so kind in the run. In six or seven strides I was able to cross and I was on the rail. Once he was behind the leader he was never going to get beaten."
Gibson earlier triumphed with Full Value in a Class Five, with both the trainer and winning jockey Gerald Mosse believing the horse could win again up in grade.
"This horse's work in the mornings is a lot better than his record would suggest," Gibson said. "That's why I think he has something left in store, he is a lot tougher this season and has been very consistent."