Debutant Better Choice didn’t have many friends before the fourth race at Happy Valley on Sunday but he would have gathered a few post-race when he rocketed home into fifth.
Trainer Chris So Wai-yin has had a good association with new horses bought for Hong Kong through Price Bloodstock and nearly all of them perform right from the off, so it was a surprise that Better Choice went out at such long odds.
Punters seemed to be put off by his latest trial on a very wet dirt surface, although the trial prior had shown some promise, or perhaps the booking of unfashionable rider Alvin Ng Ka-chun, but they probably won’t overlook the son of Hard Spun when he steps out again.
Beaten for early speed, he got a long way back in the field before charging home in eye-catching fashion and would have threatened the placings in another stride or two.
If there was an aspect of his barrier trials that was off-putting for a 1,200m Happy Valley assignment, it was that Better Choice looked like he would appreciate more distance.
That impression has not gone away after this run so he is probably more a black book horse when So stretches him out.
The other black booker does come with some sort of caveat that he has not been all that reliable but there wasn’t a better thing beaten all afternoon than Flying Force.
His outside draw always looked a problem on paper and when the pace was slow, Flying Force grabbed the bit and would not be restrained and ensured that he was going to stay wide all the way.
Had he weakened out of contention in the final 200m, that would have been acceptable in the circumstances but Flying Force stuck on and even looked a chance to still win the race until late in the piece.
In the end, he was beaten half a length behind the handy winner Sacred Ibis and Flying Force should be able to atone if he can draw a good barrier after poor draws at his last two outings have really counted again him.