Useful five-year-old Healthy Joyful has had a change of scenery with a move to Danny Shum Chap-shing this term and the gelding looks well placed to get their new relationship off to the right start in the Yan Chai Trophy, 1,400m at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Shum is renowned for coming out of the blocks running at the start of the season and this term has been no different as he posted a winning double on opening day.
And Shum usually has his stable transfers up and running quickly too and Healthy Joyful (Nash Rawiller) appears to mean business despite not having barrier trialled, with Shum replacing the visor with blinkers and adding a tongue tie.
Under Paul O’Sullivan, Healthy Joyful always looked to have more talent than his results confirmed, even chasing home Thewizardofoz one day, albeit at a respectful distance, but he has been marooned in Class Three due to his consistency.
Maybe the change of yards and a freshen up through the summer will bring the best from him and he finds a winnable assignment in the trophy event.
Although his barrier ten draw looks a tough awkward at first glance, a closer examination of the runners under him shows that there isn’t a lot of speed in the next four barriers inside him.
Even when we go further down the line, Ruby Coast and Joyful Park are also drawn inside him and haven’t shown a lot of early speed either.
So, that effectively puts Healthy Joyful in gate four by the time they have gone 200 metres today, most likely dropping into a spot just behind the leaders and ready to pounce when heads are turned for home. He should be the horse chiming in and racing to the lead by the 250 metre mark.
A logical danger to him looks Verbinsky (Neil Callan), who has yet to run a bad race in seven winless starts here, and today is just about the first time he has drawn a barrier.
Trainer Tony Cruz has sent Verbinsky towards the lead in most of his starts from the wider draws and the gelding has tried hard but hasn’t been able to finish off after the exertion early.
Maybe the kinder gate today will allow the four-year-old to be ridden with less urgency in the early stages and get more of a breather in the run - he won’t have to improve much to be right in the finish.
There are other dangers too, with Enormous Honour (Jack Wong Ho-nam) and Metallic Star (Kei Chiong Ka-kei) high amongst them and look for improvement from Ambitious Pins (Douglas Whyte) who carries blinkers for the first time.