Hard to go past the Tony Cruz-trained Doctor Geoff as the horse to follow from an interesting Class Two on Sunday where several Hong Kong Derby hopes made their entry to racing here.
Tommy Berry highlighted that he was impressed enough by Rivet’s debut, with the former British-trained horse not well suited by the slow pace of the race but the jockey was happy with how he worked to the line.
With a Derby run still four months away and the major four-year-olds first targeting the Classic Mile in late January, Berry said nobody could expect Rivet to be at the top of his game yet and that is the case with some others with Derby aspirations from that same race.
Still, Singapore Sling and Circuit Glory also did reasonably in an unsuitable contest but none of them were able to match Doctor Geoff’s performance.
Owned in the same interests as Peniaphobia, Doctor Geoff had been running home well in his barrier trials and had some strong betting support before his first local start, so somebody was expecting something from him.
As we might have expected for a Derby horse in a 1,400m race, Doctor Geoff settled well off the speed, where the two favourites Pingwu Spark and Time To Celebrate were racing.
He wasn’t able to get past both of them in the sprint down the lane but he did get into second and only a half length off Pingwu Spark and that was impressive enough.
In Ireland, Doctor Geoff had the same name and was beaten over 1,200m at his two-year-old debut before winning at 1,600m. He then went for a winter break before returning and winning over 1,400m at three before he was sold to race here.
In each of those wins, Doctor Geoff showed off a dazzling turn of foot and Sunday’s effort was the best last 400m of the day, so he hasn’t lost that big sprint.
He was strong enough over the mile at Naas to say he’ll be running out 2,000m strongly at Sha Tin so Doctor Geoff’s Derby cards are on the table and he should be able to pick up a win along the way.