Trainer Tony Millard looks to have a coming winner in Vara Pearl after his eye-catching run at Happy Valley on Wednesday night behind Caga Force put him high on the black book list.

The six-year-old had not run for three years over a pure sprint distance until he resumed at Sha Tin with fair effort behind Lucky Day and it doesn’t look like it’s something he is going to take to as a mature age horse nowadays.

With the fresh edge off him after that run, it was something of a surprise to see him in over 1,200m again at the Valley and a modest pace in the race certainly didn’t help him at all.

Outsped early, Vara Pearl was barely keeping up with the field through the middle of the race but produced a big finish down the home straight to get within four lengths of the winner and post the second-best final split of the evening.

Those two appearances should have him fit and ready for a step back up to his preferred mile distances now.

Vara Pearl is a four-time winner over the Valley 1,650m so he could look quite dangerous at that trip next time with a relatively light weight in Class Three but he is also fairly close to a grade drop and should be kept under notice for a few runs in case he finds his way into Class Four.

John Size has yet to trouble the scorer and King Bountiful would not be one of the horses that make him jump out of bed to get to trackwork, however the honest five-year-old isn’t far off an early season win.

A slow starter at the game, King Bountiful found his legs as his distances got stretched, winning two on end last season over staying trips in Class Five and then Class Four and he should find a solid place in Class Four this campaign.

It augurs well for his preparation that he returned with dash for a late-closing fourth over 1,650m, even assisted by a tempo that saw quite a few getting to the line late and King Bountiful has already shown he copes well with both Happy Valley and Sha Tin.