Up-and-coming sprinters Divine Ten and Smart Volatility will clash at Group Three level in just over a week but on Tuesday they were locked in a head-to-head tussle as they zipped through an all-weather track trial in abysmal conditions.
Divine Ten (Douglas Whyte) shaded Smart Volatility (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu) by a short head; the winner's time of 1:11.23 well over a second faster than the other two 1,200m trials of the morning.
It was hard to split the efforts - both horses got through the testing conditions comfortably and looked in good order ahead of the upcoming end-of-season test in the Group Three Sha Tin Vase (1,200m) on May 25.
Trainer Me Tsui Yu-sak has taken Divine Ten, yet another son of Holy Roman Emperor, from a rating of 52 to 109 with five wins from six starts this season, culminating in victory as a short-priced favourite in the Group Three Bauhinia Sprint Trophy (1,000m) in early April. All six of his starts have been up the straight, but the roan gelding has handled the AWT bend well in his four trials on the track and handling a bend on his first start on the circle shouldn't be a problem.
Divine Ten has been given a relatively easy time since his last start and came out looking fresh, taken to the starting gates with the lead horse, and took a keen hold at the start but still travelled strongly to the line.
Smart Volatility has also risen from 52 in the ratings, but he arrived last season and his path to triple figures hasn't been as smooth with leg problems and smaller winning margins slowing his progress to the upper grades.
He won his first three starts for new handler Francis Lui Kin-wai after an off-season transfer from the now-retired Peter Ng Bik-kuen. After a disappointing 11th at Group One level in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup (1,400m) in March, the grey appreciated the drop back to handicap conditions with a second to Access Years on the dirt three weeks ago.