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Paul O'Sullivan

Black book: Paul O’Sullivan’s Starship looks a legitimate Hong Kong Derby prospect

The four-year-old’s run on Sunday suggests a start in the prestigious Group One isn’t out of the question

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 October, 2016, 7:16pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 October, 2016, 7:18pm

All the talk was about whether Jing Jing Win might be a Hong Kong Derby horse after he brilliantly won his second race from as many outings at Sha Tin on Sunday but a Derby goal for the horse who chased him home seems far more certain.

Jing Jing Win’s trainer David Hall was not committing to a staying target for the brilliant winner, but the Paul O’Sullivan-trained Starship was almost certainly purchased with the prestigious classic in mind.

Off a rating of 71 for his debut, he has work ahead to get his figure high enough to make it into a Hong Kong Derby that might be the strongest ever this season, but his charge into second over the unsuitable 1,200m gave every indication he is on the right track.

As a two and three-year-old in Australia, Starship raced under the name Soldier Of War and took some time to get his act together, breaking through for a maiden success at start number seven.

But, when he did put it all together, Starship was extremely impressive, looping the field from last to win his 1,600m maiden by a wide margin then followed up winning just as impressively over 1,800m at his next run.

He looks destined to be at his best over 1,800-2,000m so kicking off with this eye-catching 1,200m run behind such a promising horse was a great indicator.

Also going into the black book was the Chris So Wai-yin-trained debutant Double Down out of the second race.

Double Down had looked smart in trials in Australia and was given a quiet time in two trials here before his fast-closing fourth to Happy Agility.

The four-year-old struck some trouble early and turned for home last of the 14 runners before finding the line very nicely late.

So’s team is flying at present and he will find a race for Double Down to win in the near future and the four-year-old gelding is an interesting project as far as his optimum distance is concerned.

He is by a Victoria Derby winner, Blevic, out of a Marju mare so the 1,200m of Sunday’s race probably won’t be his ideal as he gains experience.