The obvious black booker from Sunday was one of the day’s shortest-priced favourites, Harmony Hero, and the street corner tip of the day before his defeat in the Singapore River Handicap.
Part of the excitement about Harmony Hero was his form, part his barrier trials since joining the Richard Gibson yard.
Two wins as Lina’s Hero in Australia had come by good margins, despite difficulties in running, and leaving in his wake last August the subsequent Group One Caulfield Guineas winner Mighty Boss. Good form on paper and he had done it without any hint of a fluke and Harmony Hero’s trials at Sha Tin had been eye-catching.
So the three-year-old turned up on Sunday at short odds and he probably lived up to the hype, even though he finished only fifth to Super Wise.
Tommy Berry had his critics after sitting very wide through the race but the barrier did look a problem unless the speedy Orionids and Prince Harmony took each other on and spread the field out. His other option was all the way back and trusting that Harmony Hero’s talent was sufficient to get the task done giving a big start.
In the end, the pace was sober, Harmony Hero was left half pregnant, neither far enough forward nor far enough back to get in, yet he issued a challenge before he tired.
The winner, Super Wise, is a cautionary tale as he had one start in Australia for an impressive Flemington win and arrived with a big reputation at the end of 2016 as a three-year-old. It has taken him until now to win despite being fancied a number of times and that is not unusual.
The Hong Kong system is no pushover for three-year-olds, who do not have the luxury of racing against their own age. Regular readers of John Size’s comments on outstanding young horses, most recently the likes of Hot King Prawn or Nothingilikemore, will know he is wary of running them once they have Class Two rating.
Harmony Hero kicked off with a mark of 75, only one win away from Class Two, but this performance would have left anyone convinced that at least that first victory isn’t far away.