Trainer Dennis Yip Chor-hong was celebrating Go Baby Go's success in the Victoria Racing Club Trophy over the Sha Tin straight, but he must have been glowing about the bright prospects of his second-stringer Roman Soldier in the same event.
At 102-1 odds, Roman Soldier wasn't expected to beat too many under the guidance of Howard Cheng Yu-tin, but in his defence, he had excuses in his debut run four weeks earlier over 1,200m. The gelding was posted three to four deep through moderate early fractions and couldn't dash with them at the finish.
But this time with plenty of sharp gallops, Roman Soldier jumped right at the start from gate 12, lost some momentum when copping a sharp bump by St Yazin after 100m nearest the stands side, was then steadied by that same runner and faded back to be a distant last about 10 lengths off the pace at the 800m. He was still eight lengths down at the midway point before picking up over the final 100m to finish an eye-catching fifth, reeling off a sensational final 400m split in a swift 22.09.
The four-year-old flashed good potential in Britain for one win and two Group placings behind the likes of Power and the exciting sprinter Frederick Engels, who arrived last season off a mark of 92 and has found his legs this term with three straight sprint wins.
Roman Soldier is a son of the precocious stallion and speedy Holy Roman Emperor, who has produced some Valley specialists, including Legendary Dragon (five wins), Imperial Rome (three wins) and Mr Award (three wins), the versatile sprinter Rich Tapestry (two wins on the dirt) and the budding sprinter Little Cow (two Sha Tin wins).
While swiftness is evident on the top half of his pedigree, Roman Soldier has a wealth of stamina on the bottom side. His dam, Fermion, who is by the classics influential Sadler's Wells, was a double winner at 2,000m and 2,400m and is a sister to a Group winner in Ireland over 2,000m.
The gelding should be an effective turf performer over 1,200m to a mile and will be winning his way into higher grades.