By and large the turf track at Sha Tin has escaped the same damning criticism that has dogged Happy Valley this season, but Saturday's meeting is difficult to get a handle on. The problem is simple. Why did the sprint races produce much slower times relative to class than those over a trip? To blindly accept that the sprinters simply put up much inferior time performances would be dangerous in the extreme and, with just one sub-22 second split all afternoon, the sectional times don't support any theory that they were dying after going off too fast. The first two events on the nine-race card amply illustrated the extent of the problem. Initiative lowered the Class Six track record for 1,800 metres by a hefty 0.5 seconds in the Hangzhou Handicap, but Brilliant Star was 2.7 seconds outside the 1,000-metre griffin best in the opener. Sure, Brilliant Star won comfortably from a field that didn't get you dreaming of future champions, but it was reasonable to expect the Eric Legrix-ridden youngster to return at least the same 42 Topspeed rating as on his debut. To do that a near soft going allowance has to be employed. However, Initiative was also beating what looked a poor field from an official mark of just 8. For his time figure to equate to that lowly rating we would have to accept that the ground was firm. Clearly, these two scenarios are totally incompatible and the absence of a discernable headwind in the straight leaves only the going as an explanation. All the evidence points to an inconsistent surface with the home straight riding much slower than the back stretch or bends. With a good spread of races over all trips between 1,000 and 1,800 metres, the data suggests that the average speed of the track decreased as the distance in a race accounted for by the home straight increased. All this adds up to yet another day when the true value of a performance is difficult to calculate with confidence. It's another set of conditions working against the ordinary punter. So, what of Initiative's Class Six record? There's no doubt it was a sound effort, as a Topspeed rating of 30 confirms but it was actually nothing Initiative hadn't achieved before. Last season he clocked 29 over 1,800 metres at the Valley and 39 over course and distance. On those efforts he was clearly well handicapped. Despite the relatively fast time there is probably precious little to follow from those strung out behind, although the runner-up Surprise Surprise (40) ran close to his best rating of 44 and Add Some (37) is clearly capable of winning in this grade. Oriental Express stamped himself as an animal to keep firmly on your side by landing Division One of the Changchun Divided Handicap. Make no mistake a Topspeed rating of 84 for a debut effort in the territory over an inadequate trip confirms this former Group Three performer in France as a quality act, who is likely to make his mark in all the top races.