The Ricky Yiu Poon-fai yard is in tip-top form at present and a double at Happy Valley on Thursday was rounded out with a horse to follow in lightly raced Sharpmind.
Sharpmind got all the breaks in the race won by Exceptional Desire, railing up behind the winner coming into the home straight then following the rail home and grinding away to get past I’m A Witness late in the race and into second.
On the face of it, this was not an exceptional performance by any means, but taking a wider view of Sharpmind’s career to date it might be a fork in the road for the gelding.
If we go back to last season, Sharpmind started a short-priced favourite at Sha Tin on debut after some above average trial performances.
He didn’t live up to the billing that day and Sharpmind wasn’t very good at his next few starts either, finishing 10th and 12th before showing a bit more pace in a slightly better seventh to end his first preparation in May.
When he returned, Sharpmind’s first run was probably a touch better than it looks, checked at the start, racing in the middle of the straight track and finishing midfield behind Top Beautiful.
It may simply be that Sharpmind has needed experience and maturity to start to reveal the ability in races that he had shown before his debut.
That’s not to say he is about to win three in a row but he has drifted down to a nice rating in the low 40s and might find an opportunity to win one.
It’s also worth noting he is by Swiss Ace, whose sons so far in Hong Kong have all liked the dirt, so keep him in mind if Yiu switches surfaces.
The other black booker from the night doesn’t take much imagination – King Bountiful.
A winner of five races without ever having any pretensions to quality, King Bountiful is very honest and his flashing second to Premium Champion looks the signal for him to find his sixth win in the near future and there is another 1,800m race to suit in three weeks.