Zac Purton had a disappointing night without a winner but he ran an eye-catching second on Merrygowin in the second race at Happy Valley on Wednesday night and he should soon atone for that defeat.
Merrygowin showed some promise in his first campaign as a four-year-old, with a win and three placings from five starts, and the Paul O’Sullivan-trained gelding had plenty of supporters when he returned to racing on Wednesday.
An outside gate was never going to be a lot of help to him and Purton decided early to ride Merrygowin quietly at the rear of the field then launched him in the straight.
Merrygowin finished brilliantly to go down by only a length and looked like he certainly would have been winning the race had he enjoyed a better draw.
He is already a winner at Sha Tin, he has shown now that he can race well at Happy Valley and, as a son of Castledale, might handle the dirt too so O’Sullivan will have plenty of options with him.
To finish the night, former British sprinter Big Time Baby put the writing on the wall at his fourth start to advertise himself as a coming winner when he finished third to Good Companion.
Still a three-year-old, Big Time Baby’s first few runs were well separated, with five months between his local debut and second run then a summer break before his third.
That formline suggests he has been slow to acclimatise, and he was just moderate first-up this season but Wednesday saw him box on much better for a minor placing.
That looks the signal that Big Time Baby could have turned the corner and is now ready to put his best foot forward.
He won three of his five starts in Britain, all of those starts over 1,000m distances, so this run at 1,200m was a positive indication for his ability to be more than a minimum trip horse as his career unfolds.
Although he won a Listed race as a juvenile at York, a big track, he did also win at Chester, a small track with similarities to the tight, turning nature of Happy Valley and the city track might be his best assignment.