Chris So Wai-yin’s exciting unraced prospect Amazing Star caught the eye when trialling against some top horses last week and should be able to account for a Class Four restricted field on Sunday at Sha Tin.
The Chung On Handicap (1,000m), a race for three-year-olds, contains a number of horses that may win their way out of Class Four soon enough and some that already have race experience.
A few of Amazing Star’s unraced rivals have also trialled very well in the lead-up to their debuts, but none made the impression So’s gelding did last Friday.
Plenty of experts were out early to watch the 1,050m dirt trial, but most of the focus was on the John Size-trained duo of Nothingilikemore and Thewizardofoz.
Nothingilikemore is likely to be one of the favourites for next year’s four-year-old series, while Thewizardoz sits atop the ratings list for all Hong Kong horses and will resume in the Group Two Premier Bowl on October 22.
Amazing Star stole the show though, bursting out of the gates with the same tremendous speed he showed in his first trial on the turf 10 days earlier.
Zac Purton didn’t push the youngster in either hit out, but the son of Darci Brahma showed some class in the 1,050m dirt trial when he got the chance to gallop alongside the 98-rated four-year-old Nothingilikemore.
The pair went to the line locked together, running slick times throughout, with Amazing Star’s split of 21.8 seconds for the final 400m out of an overall time of 1:00.9 – decent going given the limited amount of pressure he was under.
The big query in the race is whether to trust Lucky Lucky (Joao Moreira) after a couple of monumental failures as favourite at his first two starts.
Danny Shum Chap-shing’s gelding comes back to his own age group, but has done nothing at his first two appearances at the races to engender much confidence against any opposition.
Lucky Lucky faded badly on debut in what was the opening race of the season, before failing to handle his first trip to Happy Valley last week, over-racing and becoming unbalanced on the bend.
Moreira has stuck with Lucky Lucky, and although the straight track and level of opposition look much more suitable, the jury is out.
Another first starter to keep a close watch on is Richard Gibson’s Impeccable Fellow (Chad Schofield), who hit the line well after a shake of the reins in his lead-up trial.
Gibson will have high hopes later in the day for the progressive-looking Rattan (Schofield) in the Class Three Tak Wah Handicap (1,600m).
Rattan has won two of seven and hasn’t finished worse than fourth since his debut, but is getting into deeper water ratings-wise now.
A step up to a more suitable 1,600m against just nine rivals looks an ideal opportunity for the son of Savabeel to take a step towards securing a spot in next year’s Hong Kong Classic Mile.
Last start, Mythical Emperor (Matthew Poon Ming-fai) ran second to a classy type and gets the chance to go one better from barrier one in the Tsuen Fu Handicap (Class Three, 1,200m).
Resuming on the second weekend of the season at Sha Tin over 1,200m, Mythical Emperor was beaten two lengths by towering grey Pingwu Spark – a horse that has since won again up in Class Two.
Mythical Emperor had a length to spare on the third horse, Apollo’s Choice, who gave the form a further boost when he broke through for a win last weekend.
Barrier one on the B + 2 course isn’t without its issues for Mythical Emperor, a big-striding type who prefers room to move, but if Poon can get the six-year-old up and moving early he should land in an ideal spot.
Adding even more confidence is Mythical Emperor’s recent trial in which he cleared out by five lengths in stylish fashion.
The main danger also looks the likely challenger for the lead, with Fantastic Eight (Umberto Rispoli) coming off a gritty runner-up effort behind Marvel Tribe three weeks ago.