WHILE champions-elect Tony Cruz and John Moore rightly hogged the headlines yet again after the Queen Mother's Cup meeting, the exciting performances of a quartet of this year's younger horses also merited attention. Cruz and Moore, masters of their respective crafts, are certain to wield enormous influence on local racing for many more seasons. But the continuing emergence of promising horses via the Private Purchase Griffin (PPG) scheme means the grassroots future of the sport looks more solid than it has done in the past. Racing is primarily about good horses and despite the publicity lavished on any number of gallopers over the past few seasons, not that many have actually merited the attention. When Win Theatre safely won the second event from topweight Intrepid Star, smart Sparko and the exciting debutant, Nightstalker, Hong Kong racegoers were looking at a quartet of horses destined to make their mark. There are others this season, too, not least the Wong Tang-ping-trained Red Jeans and, above all, Deauville and Banker's Delight. Saturday's runaway winner Sugarloaf, a griffin from the previous season, is also heading in the right direction. Barring accidents, all these horses should do Hong Kong racing proud and quickly make their way to the upper grades and, hopefully, raise the profile and standard of the top class. One of the features of the classification system under which Hong Kong racing operates is the time it takes for horses to drop back down the ratings' ladder. Handicappers invariably operate on a safety-first basis and there are few horses that rapidly move downwards. This has resulted in some horses with ability going for seasons without a win. But that lack of success has seen them only inch their way downwards - usually in marked contrast to the speed of their elevation in the ranks. In the past, this general trait may not have meant much - except to the owner and trainer - as overall the standard of imports and griffins was of a fairly level standard. Not that many potential stars emerged on a seasonal basis. That should not be the case now and it will pay to scrutinise the top two grades so that they don't become overloaded with older horses who are no longer in a position to be totally competitive. The obvious ability of our younger horses must present a real problem to the Jockey Club's Racing and Handicapping Departments. Basically, our racing has been geared towards Private Purchase imports who are generally placed in the top two or three grades because of their overseas records. But we now have coming through the PPG ranks horses which are much better than those imports who have raced. Some of the present anomalies of the local handicapping system are fairly well known: international weight for age is largely unworkable here and we have younger horses giving disparate weight away to older horses. Generally speaking, those of us who watch racing week in and week out become inured to the system and, to a large extent, go along with the Jockey Club credo that it does actually work. However, that is not going to be the case for much longer because the Jockey Club's own excellent PPG scheme is rendering redundant, in part, the rules under which we race and which have been in place for decades. There must now be a case for Maiden races. That would require a fairly major re-think and major changes do not happen often in Hong Kong racing, but it would be heartening to know that the Jockey Club is addressing the situation. The Jockey Club has already abolished the distinction between Private Purchase horses and PPGs for owners in the annual ballot and the balance looks certain to be tilted further in favour of buying unraced horses. That, essentially, is for the good of local racing as future champions - and good, reliable horses - will continue to emerge from their ranks. Present racing rules governing the classification of griffins were introduced when there were only a limited number of subscription griffins coming in every year and when horses raced until they were 11 and beyond. It seems logical that changing trends should be catered to by altering the rules to make them more applicable to today's needs. If we are to have many more PPGs in the coming seasons, is it not time to consider a Maiden class for those who have not been immediately successful in their juvenile year? As it now stands, griffins who have not won or placed are put into Class Four, but if this remains the case we are going to have an overloaded grade with younger and older, experienced horses bundled together. Maiden races for reclassified griffins is not the complete answer to what is a complex situation, but it is a start.