TOP class stayer Johan Cruyff (4-1) is likely to start the shortest-priced Hong Kong Derby favourite in years following his demolition job on the Classic Trial field at Sha Tin yesterday. This was sheer quality and horses like Smashing Pumpkin (3-1 favourite), which finished third, and fourth-placed Electronic Zone (4-1) are going to have to play supporting roles in the March 1 extravaganza. On this breathtaking performance, nothing finishing behind the Patrick Biancone-trained Johan Cruyff is going to finish in front of him in the $6.5 million renewal next month. This was more than just a strong, fluent win from a good horse. It was a victory that emphasised the European Classic formlines which Johan Cruyff boasts and which nothing currently racing here can truly match. Any horse reaching the frame in a European Classic has to be very good and Biancone's determined, and ultimately successful, bid to get Johan Cruyff to Hong Kong could yet be the best bit of business he has ever done. To watch Johan Cruyff and Eric Legrix simply hit overdrive in the final 150 metres of the 1,600-metre Trial and leave Electronic Zone standing was to see a champion in action. Over an unsuitable distance, Johan Cruyff ran down front-running Danzighill, left Electronic Zone in his wake, brushed aside the challenge of Smashing Pumpkin and won by a length and three-quarters. On top of all that, according to his understandably pleased trainer, Johan Cruyff pulled up scarcely blowing. Make no mistake about it - this one is special. Said Biancone: 'We all know what he has done before and what he has done so far in Hong Kong. I was very, very pleased with him today because this was not his best distance. I knew it was too short for him and I don't suppose too many people who backed him would have been really happy about 300 metres from the line. 'But it was no good for Eric to bustle him along, he had to let him come into it and then go for it. 'It was very satisfying to see how well he did come away in the last part of the race. 'Of course, he should be much better off over the extra distance in the Derby and he will be very ready for that race.' Johan Cruyff made a gallant but unavailing bid to win the Irish Derby but, nine months later and half a world away, he can land the Hong Kong equivalent. Of course, no horse race is over until they hit the line and there were excuses for Electronic Zone. Jockey Douglas Whyte said: 'I think he was telling us something when he played up at the gates. He is not normally like that and he just did not seem to be quite himself today. 'He was much edgier and did not settle as I like him to. I am sure Tony [Cruz] will have him sorted out by the Derby because he is a very good professional and he can get the horse's head right.' It's hard to see how leading trainer David Hayes will conjure up a Derby win out of Smashing Pumpkin after this fairly emphatic defeat by a horse who unquestionably will appreciate the 1,800 metres of the Classic trip here. Champion jockey Basil Marcus rode Smashing Pumpkin perfectly and the horse, rated up to Group One standard in Australia by his trainer, put in his challenge down the outside - and a powerful one it was, too. Smashing Pumpkin wound right up and was thundering home - but that was before Johan Cruyff slipped up two gears. When he did, Smashing Pumpkin's challenge was put into perspective . . . ultimately, it did not mean a lot. Danzighill (50-1) was the real surprise packet in the 11-strong field. He ran along extremely well for Jason Weaver and had a few of them struggling on straightening. He had no answer to the winner but gameness was the keynote to this run although he is unlikely to be quite such a force should trainer Wylie Wong accept with him in the Derby.