Blazing Speed showed he is right on track for the upcoming Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup with a robust dirt trial at Sha Tin yesterday after key rival Designs On Rome earlier put in an unconvincing display on the turf.
Plenty of eyebrows were raised when John Moore's former horse of the year Designs On Rome (Terry Wong Chi-wai) was way off the pace in a star-studded 1,000m trial, but Blazing Speed showed he is shaping up well for the 2,000m Group One two Sundays from now.
The Tony Cruz-trained veteran, who closed strongly for fifth in the Stewards' Cup, made all and scored by a neck in a 1,200m dirt heat, with Neil Callan still leaving plenty in the tank for the HK$10 million feature.
Given a wake-up call and finishing off in second was Moore's Griffin Trophy-winning colt People's Knight (Wong), who was back at the trials after a lacklustre last-start display.Designs On Rome has done enough throughout his career to deserve a free pass for his trial – even when he wins he can be off the bit and chasing in the early stages and some of the speedy customers he was up against left the gelding completely overmatched at 1,000m.
Still, it was a shaky effort and it might pay to keep a close watch on the six-year-old's trackwork as he aims for a second straight Gold Cup.
Designs On Rome finished eight lengths behind a group that included Group One Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup entrants Beauty Flame (Zac Purton), Dundonnell (Callan) and Multivictory (Matthew Chadwick), with Gold Cup entrant Dan Excel (Karis Teetan) right there behind them.
Moore's Dan Excel never ceases to amaze and he was again defying the years to high-tail it along with the sprinters after his ninth in the Stewards' Cup.
There wasn't much to get overly excited about from the group of unraced prospects out to trial on the grass, although David Ferraris-trained two-year-old Bear Chum (Teetan), having his second local trial, did a good job to finish alongside Irish import See Me Now (Alex Lai Hoi-wing).