Unbeaten Armada showed he will soon be graduating to the top grade with an impressive performance under barrier trial conditions at Sha Tin yesterday. With Douglas Whyte on board, Armada balanced near the rear of the nine horse field and was perhaps 20 lengths from the leaders on the home turn. But the New Zealand-bred gelding let go with a strong burst of finishing speed in the final 200 metres that took him into sixth place, some eight lengths from winner Sanziro. Armada is headed towards the International Mile Trial in December and a victory in that race would set the stage for him to compete in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile on December 10. However, if Armada's performance is accepted as a good trial, then so too was the effort of enigmatic Zabeel gelding Socrates, who was just behind Armada on the point of the turn but rattled home late to finish alongside him. Socrates has an abundance of talent and on his day is a smart middle-distance performer. But he has his quirks and isn't the easiest horse for jockeys to get along with. However, he seems to have progressed during his summer break and this effort was as good as we've seen from him in training. Socrates is trained by Caspar Fownes, currently in front on the trainers' list after four meetings. Fownes also prepared first and third in the opening heats, Sanziro and Fifty Fifty. Gerald Mosse was the new rider for Sanziro and found it difficult to settle this headstrong son of Danzero. From an outside barrier, Sanziro had plenty of daylight and consequently wanted to go a bit too freshly. Despite the energy he expended in the early stages, Sanziro kept on well in the final 200m to defeat frontrunner California Prince (apprentice Marco Chui Kwan-lai) by three-quarters of a length. Fifty Fifty (Olivier Doleuze) kept on under riding to take third, a neck behind California Prince, while Felix Coetzee gave Brains Trust a quiet time of things in fourth spot. Tony Millard has been working hard to teach free-running Brains Trust to settle and, with the help of an outstanding horseman in Coetzee, he's getting the job done. Brains Trust settled better here, slipping back to midfield on the fence while Sanziro charged forward. In the straight, Coetzee sat quietly on the Last Tycoon gelding and there was plenty of unburned petrol left in the tank in the end. The second trial was won by veteran sprinter Victory Warrior, who led throughout under the guidance of Chui, but clearly the better performance was handed in by third-placed Walkonthewildside, ridden by Brett Prebble. Walkonthewildside was formerly trained by David Oughton but was transferred to Paul O'Sullivan over the summer. He won a trial for Oughton last term but, like so many British imports, took his time to adjust to his new surroundings. Now that he has had the benefit of time, he may begin making the impact that his breeding and English form so strongly suggest. HORSES TO FOLLOW: Armada, Socrates, Brains Trust, Walkonthewildside.