Harmony Hero looked one of the best things beaten all season first-up but the Richard Gibson-trained import will have to deal with another awkward draw on Monday at Sha Tin.
Some impressive Australian form and three classy trials saw Harmony Hero sent out 2.5 favourite over 1,200m on March 11 but everything went wrong from the outset.
Harmony Hero was one of the slowest away but Tommy Berry pushed forward anyway and soon ended up three wide with no cover in a race run at solid early clip.
As a three-year-old carrying 128 pounds against mostly older horses, Harmony Hero was entitled to weaken badly but summoned a good sprint in the straight to stick on for fifth.
Harmony Hero was only beaten two lengths, a tremendous effort considering the circumstances, and the form out of the race has stacked up in the three weeks since.
Three of Harmony Hero’s rivals from that day have won already; Orionids leading all the way at Sha Tin last Sunday while Prince Harmony and Infinity Endeavour saluted at Happy Valley on Wednesday.
Even if barrier 11 is a blow, Harmony Hero should be better suited by a step up in distance in the Class Three Primula Handicap (1,400m).
Leading into the local debut, Gibson had urged punters to be cautious when assessing his new talent’s first-up chances, saying the return from a long lay-off meant the first-up assignment “could be the hardest race of his career”.
It certainly turned out that way, but perhaps not in the way Gibson meant, but the English trainer also insisted Harmony Hero would be better as he progressed in distance.
That still leaves the not-too-small matter of tactics, and what new jockey Nash Rawiller will do from the draw.
Rawiller rode Harmony Hero in a trial last week and may have signalled his tactical intentions for this race by keeping the gelding under a tight hold and taking him back to last before coasting home.
The pace doesn’t look too strong but Sun Touch will definitely be sent forward after some excellent on-pace performances, including a last start all-the-way effort, while much will depend on whether Hard Ball Get and Mister Monte get involved in the early skirmishes.
Gibson and Rawiller have struck up a deadly partnership this season, winning five from 17 together so far after having never won a race together in 28 previous tries.
Another three-year-old stepping up in trip is Benno Yung Tin-pang’s Shanghai Dragon in the Class Four Kalanchoe Handicap (1,400m).
Joao Moreria takes over from the suspended Zac Purton three weeks after an unlucky third to Golden Dash over 1,200m.
Last time out, Shanghai Dragon showed good speed but worked hard to find the rail from barrier seven before box-seating behind eventual winner Golden Dash.
When Purton tried to make his move in the straight his path was blocked and he was forced to check at the 200m mark, slowing his momentum.
This time from barrier one on the B + 2 course it shapes like Shanghai Dragon will get a similar run but with better luck in the straight he should be challenging for the win.
Alberto Sanna is the man of the moment after a double on Wednesday night that included one of the rides of the season aboard Gold Mount.
Now his sense of timing might continue when he climbs aboard rejuvenated sprinter Racing Supernova in the Class Two Hyacinth Handicap (1,400m).
People's Knight, for Joao Moreira and John Moore, just holds off the late surge of Racing Supernova, with @neilcallan78 aboard, to win R6 at Sha Tin on #HKDerby day #HKRacing pic.twitter.com/9M4U56nj4u— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) ١٨ مارس، ٢٠١٨
Early in his career, Racing Supernova looked like he could be a Group race contender but hit a wall when his rating went above triple figures.
Racing Supernova’s rating moved back up to 100 after an unlucky second over the course and distance on Sunday, but another low draw should allow the six-year-old to breakthrough for the first time in more than 500 days.