With only a handful of meetings left, many of the runners each meeting won’t be seen again until September and some will be retired between now and then too, so the best black booker at this stage is something new and Phantom Falcon and Shanghai Master fit that bill.
There was plenty of betting support for the Peter Ho Leung-trained Phantom Falcon at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, when the son of Swiss Ace found the front and had his chance on debut but had to settle for an honourable third to Nashashuk and Fox Sunter.
On face value, that may not sound like the strongest form as the first two haven’t impressed as anything but limited, but there is every reason to think that Phantom Falcon has his share of upside.
His trials in New Zealand had promised a decent future and the normal improvement from his debut should be enough to see him paying his way as a four-year-old.
Phantom Falcon went into his debut off only two local trials, one in December and another just under two weeks ago, both of them eye-catching enough in themselves but nothing that can’t be improved by some race experience. He has gate speed, decent talent and his trials in New Zealand suggested he has good attitude if it comes down to a fight.
Shanghai Master came to Francis Lui Kin-wai from the other side of Australasia, in Perth, where he was a winner of three races from his 10 starts.
The three-year-old is another who has good early speed that is going to stand him in good stead and he is already a winner up to 1,400m.
He also had a light preparation into his local debut with one nice trial in early June and it’s a good sight that he has taken to his new home so quickly, especially given that in Perth he would not have experienced right-handed racing but it hasn’t fazed him.
His fifth to Lucky Wan Feng was sound and he will only improve on that, whether Lui gets another run into him this term or waits until the next.