Time will tell which part of the group he ultimately fits into but the Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained Speedy King joined a small club when he won his first racetrack appearance on Wednesday night at Happy Valley.
In the past 10 years, only seven horses had previously taken out their debut on the short trip at the Valley and most of them proved to be very good quality horses.
Now any horse which wins its first race anywhere is probably better than average, as it isn’t easy to give away experience and come out on top, but the Valley 1,000m and the pressure that usually goes with that course is often an even bigger shock to the system for a horse coming out of the much less competitive environment of barrier trials.
The stand-out in that time is nominal Longines Hong Kong Sprint favourite Mr Stunning, whose performance in February last year was breathtaking and set him on the path to being the highest-rated horse in town.
But, in the past decade, the club has also contained Tour de Force, who got to Group level, Green Eagle, who made it to Class One, and Sun Trooper, who won his first five races like a coming star then broke down in a Group Three at his sixth start and didn’t race again.
If we go back further, we can find Country Music, runner-up in two Group Ones behind Silent Witness and several others who looked likely to reach the high grades but succumbed to injury early in their careers.
It isn’t a bombproof system – Yiu also had a horse called Happy Champion do it in 2011 and he was a disappointment subsequently while the most recent was the Paul O’Sullivan-trained Moment Of Power, who pays his way but could hardly be called a star unless he has some surprises in store.
Nevertheless, the usual solid tempo in a 1,000m race at Happy Valley ensures it’s a harder assignment for a newcomer than a race down the Sha Tin straight or on a longer course and Speedy King has definitely put up a marker to say he is going somewhere better than Class Four.