It may have lacked fireworks and marching bands. There may not have been dancing girls. But the first all-weather barrier trials of the new season yesterday heralded the return of Hong Kong's favourite sport as racing stepped into top gear for what promises to be a bumper year. Some of the familiar faces were missing and there have been a few personnel changes but the thunder of hooves and the flash of racing silks were a welcome sight to those who have been waiting anxiously for the opening meeting at Sha Tin on September 6. Defending champions David Hayes and Basil Marcus look a formidable combination again but the new pairing of Douglas Whyte and Ivan Allan is armed to the teeth for their bid to wrest the crowns. And for those who like a flutter, Hong Kong's favourite son Tony Cruz has assembled a strong team of promising young horses as he gears up for a challenge to the big two. After two years 'learning the ropes', the multiple champion jockey may now be ready to add a trainer's title to his list of achievements. Certainly the way several members of his team worked yesterday, he is one to follow in the early days of the new term. New Club jockeys Glen Boss and Robbie Fradd have been early arrivals with both riders fully aware of the need to make an early impact to guarantee rides in the fickle world of local racing. Both Boss and Fradd rode here with some success last season, with Australian Boss enjoying a late-season run of luck with Tony Cruz. Cruz retains French ace Eric Saint-Martin this season but Boss is certain to come in for plenty of rides if fortune smiles on him early. And he did his cause a lot of good in taking the second trial yesterday on the Geoff Lane-prepared Patrician. Boss picked up his position as Club jockey after American Herb McCauley had to forego the three-month job for personal reasons. South African Fradd created a good impression in his initial season last year and the Jockey Club's decision this week to grant him the second spot for the beginning of the year was warmly welcomed. Yesterday's Sha Tin dirt trials First trial, 1,150m: 1, SUCCESSFUL YEARS (S. K. Sit); 2, Sky Dragon (D Whyte); 3, Toymark (K. S. Yu). Others (in finishing order): Midas King, Arazi King, Iron Tycoon, City Patrol, Bold Advance. Time: 1:10.2 (25.3). Margins: 1.5 lengths, 2 lengths. Winner trained by Andy T. W. Leung. Second trial, 1,150m: 1, PATRICIAN (G. Boss); 2, Red Commander (D. Whyte); 3, Grand Start (W. M. Lai). Others: Flowers Treasure, Best Wishes, Charlie's Angel, Concert Kaiser. Time: 1:10.8 (24.8). Margins: 4 lengths, .75 lengths. Winner trained by Geoff Lane.