Caspar Fownes may have lost his place at the top of the trainers' premiership on Wednesday night, but he will have come out of the meeting delighted with the performance of his Derby hopeful Rainbow Chic in the Class One Cheong Ming Handicap over the extended Valley mile.
Rainbow Chic arrived from France with promising form, winning four times as Xanadou for trainer Jean-Claude Rouget.
Trying to get some mileage despite only hitting the training track in early October, Rainbow Chic made his debut on December 9 following two trials, but wasn't suited by a slow pace behind Victory Master. Returning a month later in the Classic Mile, he ran on steadily to Gold-Fun, then didn't live up to expectations with a switch to the all-weather track.
This time, Rainbow Chic jumped as the public choice at $36 in the minutes leading up to the race following some hot money and the late withdrawal of early favourite Fat Choy Oohlala.
The four-year-old was taken back at the start from an inside alley and about nine lengths off the uncontested lead of Aomen, who was crawling on the front. He was still a mile out of his ground when turning for home and turned the jets on to take third in the final few metres, clocking a sterling final split in 21.57.
In a 2013 Derby that looks a free-for-all, Rainbow Chic wouldn't be without a chance following this promising effort.
He is by successful Peintre Célèbre - Arc De Triomphe winner and European Horse of the Year. He has produced two winners of the Hong Kong Derby - Collection and Helene Mascot - and Champions & Chater Cup winner Mighty High, Hong Kong Vase winner Vallee Enchantee and Hong Kong Cup winner Pride.
His dam, Doohulla, was a Listed placed, short-course winner by the speed influential Stravinsky, and his second dam Viva Zapata was a Group Two sprint winner in France, and as such Rainbow Chic is a half-brother to Clunia (by Silent Times), who was a seven-time winner up to 2,200m in Spain.