John Size three-year-old Stuns with first trial
John Size looks like he might have found one out of the box with the aptly named Mr Stunning after the newcomer hit the ground running in his first local trial yesterday at Sha Tin.
Mr Stunning, who won his only New Zealand trial by four lengths, followed up his encouraging trackwork with a speedy jump-and-run display in his 800m turf trial.
Karis Teetan jumped the son of Exceed And Excel to the front and the three-year-old cruised through his work, showing great gate speed and getting over his final 400m in 21.5 seconds. The overall time of 45.11 was more than a full second faster than that of another Size-trained three-year-old, My Darling (Joao Moreira), who ran 46.2s in his first trial.
Mr Stunning had a decent benchmark beside him in his heat with Chris So Wai-yin's four-year-old import Racing Supernova (Moreira) ranging up alongside throughout, with nearly 10 lengths to the rest.
Racing Supernova won two from four in Australia, never more than two and a half lengths away in defeat, and gained his 70 rating with a facile three and a half length victory at Kembla Grange.
Moreira was keeping a close watch on Mr Stunning but was certainly working harder than Teetan to keep pace as the younger horse had plenty in hand as he crossed the line with a length to spare.
The dirt trials saw the return of 2015 Hong Kong Derby winner Luger (Zac Purton) as the son of Choisir returned from yet another injury-enforced layoff.
Luger suffered a second heart irregularity in the Champions Mile and following the subsequent six months on the sidelines, Size chose to skip the big early season races after Luger suffered a minor injury to his left hind leg.
Judging by his woolly coat and overall appearance, the five-year-old clearly has some work to do before returning to the races but still has more than five weeks before a possible first-up shot at the Group One Stewards' Cup on January 31.
Purton kept Luger under a tight rein, sitting wide and allowing the miler to move to the line under his own steam and finish sixth.
The Group Three Chinese Challenge Club Cup (1,400m) on New Year's Day looks the likely target for Packing Pins, with Purton back aboard Ricky Yiu Poon-fai's rising star.
Yiu chose to skip the Group One Hong Kong Mile with Packing Pins after the five-year-old couldn't match it with the more seasoned gallopers when he stepped up to 1,600m for the first time in the Group Two Jockey Club Mile.
The layoff looks to have worked wonders, with Packing Pins appearing in great order ahead of a return to handicap conditions and over a distance at which he has won at his last five attempts.
Packing Pins settled well around midfield before putting his rivals away in beautiful style to record the fastest 1,200m heat of the morning in 1:09.06.