Military Attack led the way on a good day for the Caspar Fownes team at yesterday's Sha Tin turf trials as the former horse of the year won his 1,600m hit-out in convincing style.
Now seven, Military Attack isn't without his issues these days, but looked in superb order as he cruised through the early stages of a trial and then finished off with the trademark turn of foot that has helped him capture four Group Ones.
Wearing blinkers and with jockey Zac Purton aboard, Military Attack strode freely as he sat in behind leading pair Khaya (Karis Teetan) and Packing Applause (Alex Lai Hoi-wing), before peeling off heels after straightening and pulling away with little effort.
As far as trials go, 1.36.12s over a mile is a decent workout and more than enough to ensure full fitness ahead of next weekend's Audemars Piguet QE II Cup over 2,000m, where Military Attack will face his nemesis and former stablemate Designs On Rome.
Military Attack was hindered by setbacks and was first-up for more than two months when he was beaten three lengths into fourth in the Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup on March 1, and since then Fownes has incorporated more swimming into the gelding's work routine.
Also in the trial was another QE II-bound runner, John Moore-trained Helene Happy Star (Terry Wong Chi-wai), who was fourth in last month's Hong Kong Derby. The four-year-old finished a three-and-a-half length second, after being allowed to settle at the rear and making good ground next to the grandstand rail after turning in a clear last.
Fownes unveiled an exciting European import for the first time in the opening trial of the morning, as three-year-old sprinter Accepted (Purton) caught the eye. He bounced out of the gates and worked with some purpose over 1,000m, eventually coasting to finish second behind Benno Yung Tin-pang's My Little Friend.
After winning his maiden in Ireland, Accepted was a winner of the Listed Tipperary Stakes as a two-year-old before placing in the Group Two Flying Childers Stakes across the Irish Sea, racing exclusively in straight races in his four career starts.
Finishing a close-up sixth was French import Gonna Run (Joao Moreira), with whom Fownes has pressed rest after a failed Derby campaign, and the impressive specimen could be one to watch for later in the season.
Gonna Run was unplaced in the Hong Kong Classic Mile and Hong Kong Classic Cup, but came into those races off problematic preparations and seems more settled into his surroundings now.
A winner of three from four in France and fifth in the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) over 2,100m behind The Grey Gatsby, Fownes has indicated Gonna Run will return over a mile rather than push on to the late season staying races.
Fownes’ Australian import Looks Like The Cat (Purton) came out firing in a 1,200m dirt track heat later in the session, the Group One-placed son of Husson making the running for much of the trial before being overhauled late by Travel Renyi (Olivier Doleuze) and Tony Cruz-trained QE II entrant Blazing Speed (Alvin Ng Ka-chun).