Black bookers don’t get any more obvious than Master Albert but, even in his first defeat, the three-year-old lived right up to the hype from Australia by finishing third at Sha Tin on Sunday.
He raced twice in Victoria under the name Albert Of Clonmel and was best known for a remarkable debut win, when he went into a bucking fit soon after the start of a 1,000m race, dropped back from sharing the lead to a clear last but still managed to win by almost a length.
His other win was much better behaved but also an impressive performance and, after a solid foundation in Hong Kong which included three nice trials, the Chris So Wai-yin-trained gelding didn’t escape the notice of punters when he made his local debut.
But, while he had the talent and the preparation, the race looked awkward on paper for Master Albert, with a wide draw and the likelihood of a pace that wasn’t going to help him to overcome that problem.
Jockey Joao Moreira’s response was to ride for luck, giving Master Albert one of those “Joao specials” which have come off so frequently during the season, going back early, finding the rail and hoping the runs came in the right place at the right time.
To some extent they did, but what also happened was that the leaders rested through the first half of the race in a moderate tempo and then put the foot down in the straight, ripping home in the fastest sectional times of the day so Master Albert would have had to do something really out of the box to win and break 22 seconds.
As it was, he showed that he had no issues with running right-handed now, managed to run the best final 400m of the meeting but found the extra length-and-a-half he needed to get up and win it first-up just beyond him.
Defeat at short odds hurts but if you put your money on the line with Master Albert on Sunday, you’ll get it back shortly and the son of versatile stallion Magic Albert is certainly worth following into next season as an improving four-year-old.