Richard Gibson was obviously thrilled with what Gold-Fun left on the track in the Jockey Club Sprint, but the trainer is even more excited by what he believes is still left in the tank for international day.
With Gold-Fun tipping the scales at a relatively rotund 1,274 pounds, the most the horse has ever weighed before a race and nearly 30 pounds more than his last start, the six-year-old still stamped his class with a stylish come-from-behind win in the Group Two.
"It was intentional - we left as much condition on him for this race as we dared and he crept up in body weight, and because of that we hope there is plenty left in the locker for the big day," said Gibson, who wasn't even attempting to downplay his three-time Group One winner's Longines Hong Kong Sprint chances in three weeks.
"He laid down the marker today and he is the one they all have to beat."
Gibson again called on globetrotting jockey Christophe Soumillon, who won the Chairman's Sprint Prize on Gold-Fun last season, and the Belgian maestro produced a patient and perfectly timed ride after a slow getaway from barrier two. With eventual runner-up Peniaphobia (Joao Moreira) leading, and third-placed Not Listenin'tome (Neil Callan) creating pressure up front, Soumillon bided his time in midfield before unleashing the winning run.
"I was trying to get a better position early, but I had the outside horses going quite fast so I didn't have the choice but to wait," Soumillon said.
"On the turn he was going quite free, but this horse is funny - you can't take the lead too early on him, but I saw the horses five or six lengths away from me so I had to get out."
Callan admitted that the fast first sections of the race favoured horses coming off the speed and believes Not Listenin'tome is still a live chance in the big one.
"I was trying to fight for a position, and it probably cost him in the finish - the way the race ended up being run set it up for the winner," he said. "There's not much between the top three or four local sprinters, maybe only a length, so barrier draws are going to be important in the Group One."
Bursting back to form in fourth was Caspar Fownes' 2011 Hong Kong Sprint winner Lucky Nine, who hasn't won for more than 18 months but rattled home from last.
"He found the line with all of his old enthusiasm," the eight-year-old's jockey Brett Prebble said. "Caspar left the old horse a little bit fresh today and I think he appreciated it. I think he can run a race on international day."
Nash Rawiller was given a three-day ban on Smart Volatility for causing interference to Tony Millard-trained pair Strathmore and Golden Harvest when he crossed after the start.