Amber Sky hasn’t won since 2014 but the speedster is showing signs of his former dash this season and another impressive trial has the seven-year-old primed for next month’s Group Three Bauhinia Sprint Trophy.
A stunning performance in the 2014 Group One Al Quoz Sprint was meant to be just the first of many wins at top level but Amber Sky hasn’t been able to reclaim that same spark since.
An inability to handle Sha Tin’s 1,200m course hasn’t helped but the gelding has also scoped with blood on his trachea four times in his 26-start career.
Just when it seemed Amber Sky’s spark had completely vanished, a return to his favourite straight course and a favourable handicap saw Ricky Yiu Poon-fai’s former star go agonisingly close in October’s Group Three National Day Cup.
With 113 pounds on his back, Amber Sky was grabbed right on the line by Amazing Kids, and a return to the same race conditions on January 8 looks ideal.
Yiu backed off after that brave effort and Amber Sky only returned to work earlier this month and a forward trial over 1,000m on Tuesday was a great sign he will be ready in just over three weeks.
Keith Yeung Ming-lun had Amber Sky show his trademark electrifying gate speed, getting out very quickly before zipping through a 400m sectional from the 800m to the 400m in a swift 20.8 seconds.
Amber Sky’s kung fu movie star owner Sammo Hung Kam-po will be hoping some high-rated sprinters return to the fray after Sunday’s Hong Kong Sprint to ensure his horse again gets a light weight.
If the 109-rated Amber Sky is left as one of the top weights he could be giving substantial weight away to Adventurer – who was an 800m trial winner later in the morning under Joao Moreira and entered for a Class Two on Sunday.
Adventurer has moved to 92 after winning two from three this season and if Me Tsui Yu-sak’s four-year-old can win on Sunday he will move into group race calculations.
With the Hong Kong International Races behind us, focus shifts to the four-year-old series and build-up to the 2017 BMW Hong Kong Derby and a host of imports were on show on Tuesday.
Beauty Generation (Zac Purton) looks likely to kick off his Derby campaign after finishing six lengths off Amber Sky in an unhurried workout.
The John Moore-trained staying prospect carries a rating of 93 courtesy of a Group One placing in Australia, when racing as Montaigne for Anthony Cummings, and looks set to make his local debut in a 1,600m Class Two in less than two weeks at Sha Tin.
Two other Moore-trained imports finished at the trail in the trial, Queensland Derby runner-up Rodrico (Sam Clipperton) needing to be scrubbed along in his second local hit-out, this time in blinkers, while French Group One winner Helene Charisma (Joao Moreira) wasn’t pushed.
It wasn’t surprising to see Moore’s two stayers out-sprinted in the trial and Moreira seemed to be under instructions to nurse Helene Charisma through his most strenuous work since arriving.