There was a long, arduous process behind Nassa’s first appearance on the racetrack in Hong Kong on Sunday but the former South African gave every indication that the wait will have been worth it.
Nassa had not raced since December 2015 due to all the quarantine hoops that South African horses have to go through for export to just about anywhere at present.
And his return to racing was delayed even further once here, with a suspensory ligament injury that saw him scratched from his scheduled debut on international day in December and then a lung infection followed in January.
Life has not been easy for the Tony Millard-trained four-year-old, who was no doubt intended as a Derby hope before misfortune intervened, but his finish from the rear into seventh behind Western Express showed that he has not forgotten how to race.
Steadied early by Karis Teetan from a wider barrier, Nassa travelled well enough without ever looking like any sort of threat but it was his final 300m that was really encouraging.
Nassa registered the third-best final 400m of the day behind race-fit Such A Happiness, who stays very much on our black book list, and another Private Purchase debutant, General Dino.
General Dino did have the luxury though of a slowly run 1,200m event, so he only had to run flat out for half a race.
In the Class Two over 1,400m, Nassa needed to perform for the whole race, sprinting hard at the finish after having to run fast enough to keep up with a generous pace.
In South Africa, Nassa raced under the same name, with the peak efforts his Group Two and Group One thirds in the Selangor Cup and Cape Guineas, respectively, at Kenilworth, the latter behind highly touted Noah From Goa, who joined Mike de Kock’s Dubai team for the carnival but unfortunately went amiss.
Nassa is certainly going to pay his way here under the colours of Connie Siu Kim-ying and Millard will feel he was owed one when Nassa does win – the owner also had Destined For Glory, who caused a major upset beating Millard’s champion Ambitious Dragon in a Jockey Club Cup at Sha Tin.