A tricky day for black bookers at Sha Tin on Sunday, with a whole lot of races that looked lead-dominated beforehand then exacerbated by a mild on-speed bias, right up until everyone got a bee in their bonnet late in the day.
Taking horses to follow out of slowly run races is fraught with danger but there was a lot to like about the local debut of Quick Return, from the Danny Shum Chap-shing yard, in the Class Three trophy race over 1,400m.
Quick Return’s barrier trials had been quite tidy without being outstanding – enough to suggest he was going well but may just need a race – so his closing fifth behind Chung Wah Spirit was encouraging.
He won three of 10 in New Zealand as Cohabitate, scoring up to 1,600m in decent company at Ellerslie, and he does not look harshly treated off his mark of 72, considering some of the modest horses which come in on similar ratings.
This race was run at nice speed without being too strong and looks a more reliable guide for the future than some other events on the day.
The first four home raced handy and then kicked for home strongly, so it was not easy to take ground from them and really only Quick Return made any impression.
Left a little flat-footed at the 250m, Quick Return was doing his best work on the line for Dylan Mo Hin-tung and expect him to be better for the experience.
The other not-to-be-missed black booker was the Tony Cruz-trained Doyeni in the final race, as spotted by the stewards, and he looks ready to win again after two runs from a long break with injury.
Doyeni had little luck in the run down the straight and, whatever the stewards make of the ride by Kei Chiong Ka-kei when they resume their inquiry, there’s not much doubt he was an unlucky horse and, in the circumstances, should have won.
Obviously, his record suggests Doyeni is a day-by-day proposition but both recent runs have been impressive, perhaps he is ready for a step up to 1,800m now.