Sunday’s races didn’t easily lend themselves to reliable form going forward, with muddling tempo and a dash home the order of the day in most of them, but performances from lightly raced Pingwu Spark and Winning Vangogh earmarked them as coming winners.
Pingwu Spark looked unlucky at his debut in June when second to Marvel Tribe and atoned for that with a fairly straight forward win on Sunday over 1,200m, tracking through the race behind the leader Mythical Emperor then finding the line.
It was the perfect run in the race and the big grey would have been very disappointing had he not won, but that still doesn’t disqualify him as a horse to be on again next time.
He has gate speed, he looks to have a good attitude and, as jockey Derek Leung Ka-chun was quick to highlight, he is still green and open to improvement in his racecraft.
The other thing to note is that he is by Mastercraftsman, quickly becoming one of those sires whose progeny thrive in the Hong Kong environment.
Although he has been successful with sprinters such as Pablosky and Master Viking, Mastercraftsman’s best horses here – Packing Dragon, Victory Boys, Basic Instinct – have been effective over further.
The manner of his win on Sunday certainly suggested that Pingwu Spark will run 1,400m or even a mile, where his tactical speed is going to be of great benefit.
In the final race, the Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained Winning Vangogh made his first start on the dirt and his good second was not altogether unexpected. On his three turf runs, he was a 100-1 chance but Zac Purton jumped on and punters sent him out as a one of the possible chances in the race.
And, looking back, the only other time he had been on the dirt, Winning Vangogh comfortably beat stablemate Lucky Wang Feng, who subsequently came out and won at Sha Tin.
So the signs were there that Winning Vangogh was probably going to improve on the dirt, and improve he did, looking the winner until Dragon General overhauled him in the final stages. He was the only leader in the race to keep going at the finish and should be able to turn that around soon.