Benno Yung Tin-pang's smart-looking sprinter My Little Friend franked his strong formlines with a top trial on the all-weather track at Sha Tin yesterday and looks set to break his maiden next time out.
My Little Friend was beaten a neck last start by Class One-bound speedster Divine Ten - a winner of three of four, an early contender for most improved horse of the year and a specialist on the straight course. The finishing margin doesn't tell the full story either - My Little Friend jumped from a decent gate, nine, but ended up a little too far off the pace, and then was severely disadvantaged when he forced into the centre part of the biased 1,000m track. Despite the tough run, My Little Friend was taking ground off Divine Ten in the finish.
Sporting pacifiers for the first time, common practice on the dirt, My Little Friend was snagged back at the start of the 1,200m heat by Gerald Mosse and probably travelled a little too keenly for the Frenchman's liking, as he sat second last.
Mosse got the four-year-old to the outside in the straight, and once balanced at the furlong he let down with a decent sprint to the line, finishing third behind stablemate Demon Demon (Joao Moreira) and struggling four-year-old Helene Super Star (Matthew Chadwick).
Yung may stick to the straight for now with My Little Friend, but the run-on effort gave hope that 1,200m wouldn't be too much of a stretch, especially with a little more race experience.
Demon Demon has sucked plenty of punters in previously with flashy trial efforts and consistent raceday performances, but he is yet to win in 21 local starts. Surely with a rating now at an all time low of 52 the import can do something - again his trial was strong, sitting outside the leader Electric Crimson (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu) and working to the line on the bridle.
Helene Super Star has battled respiratory problems since arriving and will face an official veterinary examination before being allowed to race again.
He was a flop at his only two local starts and scoped with a substantial amount of mucopus after an 11th in the Group One Hong Kong Classic Mile (1,600m). He was then withdrawn from the Group One Hong Kong Classic Cup (1,800m) with more mucus issues, but provided his lungs are clear, he might be able to run a race judging by his trial effort.
The former star three-year-old - winner of the Group Two UAE Derby and seventh in the Group One Kentucky Derby last year - was given a niggle to run into second but looked a picture of health. The 90-rater should be able to secure a spot in the Group One Hong Kong Derby field if that is where trainer Tony Cruz chooses to go next.
John Size cast-off King Haradasun (Zac Purton) - who has always shown glimpses of ability, but is still winless after 17 starts - also got to the line well in his first outing for new handler Chris So Wai-yin.