The trail of destruction that came in behind three-year-old Peniaphobia as he made the successful graduation to Group Two winner and international contender will give the Jockey Club much to think about but was not putting a brake on the enthusiasm of his trainer and rider.

Douglas Whyte upset bigger names last year when Charles The Great won the Jockey Club Sprint and he was at it again, although Peniaphobia had good support in the betting.

"Spalato dug up under me early and I was worried about the position we were going to get but I got some cover three wide and my confidence grew as we got near the home straight. Only good horses accelerate the way he did for me today," said Whyte, who was caught by Peniaphobia's turn of foot and thought he might have made his move too soon. "He got there quicker than I'd expected and then was dour to the line. Hopefully, he can get a better draw in the Hong Kong Sprint and he is going to be a force to be reckoned with."

Trainer Tony Cruz was quick to point out Peniaphobia was the youngest horse in the field and making the step forward from a Happy Valley Class Two at his prior start.

He will be stronger and fitter and much more professional in three weeks
Tony Cruz on Peniaphobia

"Last season, I said he would target these races when he was coming through the grades and he has just kept improving," said Cruz, who has won Hong Kong Sprints with the champion Silent Witness. "I think he's a serious contender for the international - he will be stronger and fitter and much more professional in three weeks."

But that confidence will be shared by connections of the horses which ran fifth, 12th and even last, with Lucky Nine, Sterling City and Aerovelocity the subject of everything from blocked runs to violent stoppages and their finishing places when the referee rang the bell didn't reflect their chances going forward.

"You could run it again and get three different placegetters," said Lucky Nine's trainer Caspar Fownes and Brett Prebble agreed.

You could run it again and get three different placegetters
Caspar Fownes

"There was nowhere to go, he got pushed back through the field behind Spalato and then got home well late - it was like a fitness run without hurting him," Prebble said.

Joao Moreira said Sterling City "should have been right in the finish - the first four at least" although he wound up third last.

"My horse didn't let me down today, I just couldn't test him," Moreira said. "And if you remember, the exact same thing happened to this horse before he went and won the race in Dubai. He conserved his energy today but will be spot on for the next one."

My horse didn't let me down today, I just couldn't test him
Joao Moreira on Sterling City

And Aerovelocity was battered against the inside rail more than once down the home straight before jockey Zac Purton threw in the towel and settled for last on the favourite.

Those incidents, and the failures of horses like Amber Sky and Singapore galloper Spalato, both of which carry high handicap ratings, will cause plenty of robust debate about who should be included when the Hong Kong Sprint field is announced this Wednesday.

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