Irish-bred Great Joy should be right at his peak this season as a five-year-old turning six in a couple of months and the David Hall-trained gelding looked the black-booker of the night at Happy Valley on Wednesday.
Great Joy produced a big finish first-up over an unsuitable 1,200m to run fourth to London Master and is ready to build on the improvement he showed last season.
After a brief first campaign two seasons ago, Great Joy won only once in his nine runs last season and made a few mistakes along the way, but it was the way he won that made him look a horse with a worthwhile future.
For a horse who can run out a strong 1,800m, Great Joy does have a quick sprint on him and that stood him in good stead on Wednesday night.
Taking the position at the rear that most expected over 1,200m, the gelding had a relaxed time of things until the home straight then charged home just the way you would like to see from him.
Stewards quizzed apprentice Matthew Poon Ming-fai about his navigation at the top of the straight but let it pass and the truth is probably that Great Joy couldn’t have gone any faster whatever happened.
Like many of the International Sale horses, Great Joy has blossomed steadily over time and he should be able to win his way out of Class Four quickly this preparation and more than pay his way in Class Three as well in what should be his best season.
From the same race, the Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained first starter Clear Choice also caught the eye running on late in the piece.
He is a son of Rebel Raider, who had his great moment on the racetrack winning the Victoria Derby over 2,500m as an early three-year-old, so you could hardly expect his offspring to be sprinters.
Clear Choice had done well enough winning his only trial in Australia and in two public efforts here to suggest he will be worth following but more so when Shum finds races for him over further and maybe on the bigger track at Sha Tin too.