Not fit enough or just not quite good enough? Opinions were divided over Good Standing’s first-up effort over 1,400m and the Hong Kong Classic Mile contender gets another chance to prove his credentials on Sunday at Sha Tin.
At 1,300-plus pounds, Good Standing looked like a runaway locomotive – and a certain winner – when he burst to the front with 300m remaining two weeks ago.
But first-up for more than seven months and appearing in need of the run, Good Standing punctured late and finished fourth as top-class galloper Pingwu Spark flew by.
The form out of that race seems sound after Monday’s meeting with Pingwu Spark’s effort franked by Fifty Fifty’s breakthrough Group Three victory and third-placed Baba Mama running another good race.
So should Good Standing have won anyway, regardless of fitness? The giant galloper gets a golden opportunity to make amends in Sunday’s second-up run in the Class Two Violet Handicap (1,600m).
Trainer John Moore has called on stable jockey Tommy Berry to ride Good Standing and from barrier one on the C course, there can’t be any excuses on account of race fitness this time.
Good Standing prefers to race handy and the draw should allow Berry to be in the box seat at worst in a race containing five other horses with Derby aspirations.
The first leg of the four-year-old series, the Hong Kong Classic Mile, is looming, and will be followed by the Hong Kong Classic Cup over 1,800m in February and the BMW Hong Kong Derby on March 18.
Peter Ho Leung’s Circuit Glory and the Caspar Fownes-trained Rise High remain low in most experts’ Derby rankings but John Size’s Time To Celebrate and the Tony Cruz pair Doctor Geoff and Dragon Lips have all caught the eye.
Time To Celebrate (Joao Moreira) arrived on a rating of 75 but has rocketed into Derby reckoning and a mark of 89 after winning two of his last three including a last start win over a mile on international day.
He has drawn wide in gate 12, along with Doctor Geoff (Karis Teetan) in barrier 14, and the one to watch might be Dragon Lips (Matthew Chadwick), first-up after an impressive trial and solid work in the mornings.
Dragon Lips was trained in Germany by former Hong Kong-based jockey Andreas Suborics and won at Group Three and Group Two level.
Earlier in the day a host of other Derby aspirants get a chance to boost their ratings in the Class Three Orchid Handicap (1,400m), with Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s Simply Brilliant (Zac Purton) and Ping Hai Star (Moreira) the most likely to work their way into the Classic Mile field.
Simply Brilliant has been sent to the races favourite at both starts over 1,200m and finished a narrow second on both occasions.
Last time, Simply Brilliant was beaten a short-head but was doing his best work over the last 100m, indicating that a step up to 1,400m will suit, and the son of Frankel trialled well for Purton on December 29.
Ping Hai Star was ridden forward last start and faded badly as 1.5 favourite so expect Moreira to revert to more conservative tactics from gate 11 on Sunday.
Bombay Blitz (Douglas Whyte) and Super Wise (Umberto Rispoli) have drawn awkwardly but both showed good signs last start.
Vincent Ho Chak-yiu finds himself in an interesting predicament with last start winner Diamond Dragon, a horse that is notoriously difficult to settle and has drawn barrier one.