Some nice Hong Kong debut runs fill the black book from racing on Saturday, with three-year-old Emerald Spur catching the eye behind Gracious Ryder and five-time Italian winner, Xiang Bai Qi, making a good impression in the last race.
Emerald Spur had indicated some good ability in his barrier trials so his strong-finishing fourth on the weekend was not a complete surprise but it certainly confirmed what he had shown.
His lack of early speed was always going to come against him from a wide draw over the 1,200m, and he raced at the rear of the field to the home turn and it was going to be tough to win. But the son of Super Easy unleashed a big final sprint, the second-fastest of the day, to pass most of his rivals over the final 400m.
Trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai will probably want to try him over 1,400m to give him a chance to get into the fray or maybe he just needs a better draw but, if he can get close enough to employ that finish, his maiden win shouldn’t be far away.
Considering the three-year-old Group form that he brought from Italy, the David Ferraris-trained Xiang Bai Qi might have been intended as a Derby hopeful but that all came too quickly.
His trials had not suggested Xiang Bai Qi would show up at his first attempt here over 1,400m and punters sent him around as 202-1 chance but his solid sixth behind Coby Boy ensured he won’t be that price next time.
A rating of 85 is not an easy place to start but the gelding comes onto the scene fresh at a point in the season where others will be starting to feel the pinch after some significant racing.
Coby Boy takes his record to two wins from four Hong Kong starts with a good score in the last at Sha Tin. Racing returns to Happy Valley on Wednesday before #HKChampionsDay next Sunday, 29 April #HKRacing pic.twitter.com/7nX6rOEclE— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) April 21, 2018
That is his opportunity and trainer Ferraris will be keen to step him up in distance. In Italy, where he raced as Amore Hass, he was a frequent winner, scoring at five of 11 starts with three of those wins over 1,600m but he was also tried up to 2,200m when he ran fourth in the Italian Derby. That suggests, with more maturity now, Xiang Bai Qi may even be more comfortable over some distance.