As far as flashing lights in barrier trials go they don’t come much brighter than Super Missile’s effort behind a couple of star sprinters two weeks ago and the three-year-old debuts with a nice draw up the straight at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The Frankie Lor Fu-chuen-trained gelding had already trialled in impressive fashion on October 17 – holding off some unraced rivals that included subsequent debut winner Sparkling Dragon – in an 800m turf hit-out, but it was a 1,050m effort on the dirt that really caught the eye.
Matched against John Size’s sprinters Mr Stunning and Beat The Clock, Super Missile more than held his own as he worked to the line just behind the pair under minimal riding from Zac Purton.
Mr Stunning was already the highest-rated horse in Hong Kong before last weekend’s convincing victory in the Group Two Jockey Club Sprint before his stablemate Beat The Clock pushed his rating into triple figures with one of the wins of the season in Class Two.
If the trial form wasn’t enough, Super Missile also has some pedigree that seems well suited to Asian conditions, with sire Smart Missile producing four individual winners from limited opportunities so far.
Super Missile also has a highly touted older full-brother racing with Joe Lau in Macau named Sacred Missile who has won four from five, three of them by big margins, and was runner-up in the Autumn Trophy last start.
Now Super Missile starts off a mark of 52 in the Class Four Chevalier Aluminium Engineering Handicap (1,000m) in a race that looks at the new talent’s mercy.
A win with Super Missile would carry extra significance for Lor, with many doubting the rookie trainer’s championship credentials despite his early lead in the standings.
Lor has 22 winners so far and leads his former boss Size by seven but each of his wins have come from stable transfers and, if successful, Super Missile would be his first Private Purchase Griffin to win.
Super Missile would have started short odds regardless of where he drew, but from barrier 12 it would seem Purton will have the ideal starting spot to position his horse in the first three or four.
The race contains four other debutantes – Super Eighteen (Karis Teetan), Flash (Sam Clipperton), Hero Time (Neil Callan) and Lucky Coin (Chad Schofield) – and while all of them showed some good signs in trials they look overmatched here against Lor’s classy type.
Lucky Lucky (Derek Leung Ka-chun) was a hyped-up horse on debut on the strength of a trial not long ago but after being rolled on opening day as odds-on favourite has been disappointing.
Blinkers and a switch back to the straight should help Lucky Lucky but he too seems a step or two behind Super Missile.
Purton heads to the races with a strong book of rides including last start winners Pick Number One and Little Giant, plus the John Size-trained youngster Ping Hai Star in the Class Three Chevalier Property Investment Handicap (1,400m).
Ping Hai Star was taken back from an outside draw on debut and zipped home when second to World Record.
This time from gate five on the C course, Purton should be able to replicate the four-year-old’s racing pattern from Australia, where he won two from three sitting handy in the run.
Ping Hai Star will face a strong challenge from another of Lor’s charges though, with Morethanlucky (Karis Teetan) drawn gate two.
Morethanlucky has already won two from three for Lor after an off-season switch to his stable but the ease of his last start victory indicated there is more in store.