It’s no secret that Nashashuk won a fairly common Class Four on Wednesday night at Happy Valley but newcomer Empire Star still did enough in running second to be sure that he is going to win his share of races.
His trials on turf had been sound but punters took his moderate all-weather trial to heart and sent the Me Tsui Yu-sak-trained gelding out at over 100-1 for his debut and he almost added one more shock winner to a season already peppered with them.
Noticeably slow to begin, Empire Star hugged the rail rounding the home turn and threaded through the field before running on well to go down by a neck, despite running about in the final 150m.
At a first look, it was an outstanding debut but what did flatter him was that the leaders ran along at a good pace anyway then surged mid-race, spending a lot of their energy before straightening and leaving the on-pace runners without a lot for the final stages and assisting anything running on.
In saying that though, Empire Star was certainly the one finishing by far the best of the run-on horses and the fact that he was so green gives hope that he has plenty ahead of him when he straightens his act up.
His sire Skilled was a winner of the Champagne Stakes at Randwick, the main two-year-old race in Sydney over a mile, while his dam, Oh What A Song, comes from a distinguished female line, including Empire Star’s grand-dam Mamzelle Pedrille, a Group One performer at 1,400m.
Empire Star’s stablemate in the following race, Curling Luxury, also looks worth following now that he is getting to suitable distances. He was rank and green early and wasn’t helping his rider, Vincent Ho Chak-yiu, in the early stages and Ho did the right thing going to the lead.
But the jockey then made the beginner’s error of throwing out the anchor, going too slow in front and inviting others to dash around him and gain an advantage, which Olivier Doleuze did with Winaswewish.
It wasn’t easy to get Curling Luxury going again but he boxed on for a dead-heat third and will be better for the experience.