Hong Kong still needs higher quality Thoroughbreds to be in the top bracket of world racing jurisdictions. That was the message yesterday from director of racing Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, who addressed a media seminar as the countdown to the 1999-2000 season continues. Engelbrecht-Bresges said that in administration, betting and the standard of racing, Hong Kong was firmly entrenched in the top 10 and well-equipped for the millennium. 'But the quality of our horses does need to improve and that is really the message that goes out to our owners,' he said. And there will be no let-up in efforts to ensure that licensed personnel in Hong Kong are as good as it is possible to get. Newly appointed chief stipendiary steward John Schreck who comes to the demanding position towards the backend of a glittering career, left little doubt that decisive action will be taken to ensure that the sport remains clean - and safe. While effective stewarding requires a team effort, it also demands a strong leader and Schreck, former top official with the Australian Jockey Club in Sydney, will lead by example. Schreck has never had any doubts about the firm line that is drawn between racing stewards and licensed personnel. That line is rarely blurred in Australia but can be elsewhere. No socialising with jockeys or trainers is one of several Schreck edicts. Meanwhile, French ace Eric Saint-Martin, now retained by local trainer Peter Ho, had his first taste of the new season yesterday when he partnered several horses in trackwork. Saint-Martin, who had an excellent season last time round, partnered Horse Of Fame who had a scintillating introduction to Hong Kong racing before a bad stable accident put him out of action for months. He came back at the end of last season and appears to have summered well with the hope that the traumatic injury behind him, Horse Of Fame may well fulfil that early promise shown at Happy Valley. With the efficient and long overdue five-day entry system coming into play this season, officially the likely field for the season's first feature race, the HKSAR Chief Executive's Cup, is not yet known. But some of the territory's leading sprinters went through their paces at Sha Tin yesterday morning with a tilt at the season's first silverware clearly the target. Trainer David Hill has snared the trophy previously with the excellent Kowloon Pride - a Valley specialist - but stable star Bumper Storm looks the more likely candidate for honours this time. Club jockey David Harrison, licensed until mid-December, will be doing a lot of riding for Hill and there was plenty to like about his gallop on Bumper Storm yesterday. Hill has put good work into some of his horses in the lead-up to the new season and Bumper Storm, clocked in 1:18.5 (22.7), is looking sharp. One of last season's boom gallopers, Kingston Treasure, also seems to have taken the mid-summer break comfortably in his stride and is coming to hand.