Tuesday's turf trials reveal ISG talents
A host of last December's Hong Kong International Sales graduates (ISGs) are already beginning to flex their muscles at the trials - led by the sales-topper Longwah Amber, who produced another nice workout during the week.
Longwah Amber sold for HK $7.5 million at the most recent International Sale and was sent to lowly-ranked trainer Gary Ng Ting-keung, who has a top-level talent on his hands.
It's easy to see why the chestnut son of Exceed And Excel attracted the biggest bids - he has striking looks and all-round size, but also a stride length to match, which he showed off as he worked easily to the line to win a 1,000m turf heat.
In what was the horse's second trial, after an undemanding 1,050m dirt jump out, he showed there are still some wrinkles to be ironed out before raceday.
Longwah Amber was a touch slow away, but wasn't pushed by Eddy Lai Wai-ming as the gelding got on the bit through the early stages. Once into a rhythm he cruised away to score by a widening one and three quarter lengths, in a time of 59.49s.
Behind him were Manfred Man Ka-leung's unraced Private Purchase Griffin King Brother (Zac Purton) - the three-year-old by Holy Roman Emperor hitting the line after a click up by Purton - and Me Tsui Yu-sak's Japanese-bred three-year-old Just Ace (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu), who seems to be finding his feet after a patient preparation.
In an 800m turf heat later in the set two more ISGs strutted their stuff - Tony Cruz-trained Bullish Smart (Matthew Chadwick) and John Moore's Exaggeration (Joao Moreira) finishing one-two.
Bullish Smart's owner Wong Wing Keung has already struck ISG gold with Bullish Friend and it looks as though he has found another progressive campaigner with this HK $5 million purchase.
A German-foaled three-year-old by Soldier Hollow, Bullish Smart is bred to get further, looking more like a Derby horse than a sprinter, so having the precocity to win an 800m trial is a bonus.
Behind him in second was another of Exceed And Excel's progeny - this one a HK $3.8 million buy, Exaggeration (Moreira), who was having his first outing at the trials. There is plenty of room for improvement for the youngster - he was still unrefined is his action, pulled a touch but probably exceeded Moore's expectations with what he was able to produce.
Stag Knight (Moreira), a three-year-old that has been paired with - and beating - Exaggeration in gallops for the past few weeks, was unleashed in another 800m trial.
A prototypical son of Lonhro, Stag Knight is a real looker with an unflappable demeanour and a lovely action. He did everything right in his first public outing as he jumped on the speed, and then moved through the gears without any pressure to pull away with two lengths to spare on another unraced three-year-old, Four Four Five (Olivier Doleuze).
The best, and fastest, 1,000m trial of the morning was by another John Size winner waiting to happen - Eye On You (Moreira), who was unbeaten in three runs as a three-year-old in Australia and will begin off a mark of 78.
Eye On You jumped into the worst part of the track, but travelled to the front and put his rivals away by one and a quarter lengths in a time of 59.21s while under a tight stranglehold.