After a very slow start to his Hong Kong career, Open House put his name up in flashing lights as a coming winner with a barnstorming finish at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
The David Hall-trained horse won his only start in Ireland – a 1,600m maiden at Navas in August 2016 – but it has been slow going since then.
He never got going in five runs over 1,200m on all three tracks last term – but he wasn’t expected to either with his shortest price $86.
Open House’s 2017-18 campaign got off to an inauspicious start when he was scratched before what was meant to be his first-up run after kicking a rail in the parade ring.
Following that he finished ninth in December, missed another run with a lame right front leg before being thrashed at his following two outings over 1,650m and 1,800m respectively.
The five-year-old then showed some signs of improvement when beaten three-and-three-quarter lengths by House Of Luck over 1,650m last month and he took another step forward on Wednesday night.
Hall dropped him back to 1,200m for the Class Four Shouson Hill Handicap and removed the blinkers while jockey Sam Clipperton, in his first ride on the horse, settled last in running – a big change given he had worked early in his previous three runs.
The change in tactics and trip seemed to do the trick as Open House put in his best performance in Hong Kong.
After settling last with eventual winner Noble Delight setting the speed, Clipperton took the short-cut home, sticking to the rail and Open House savaged the line to finish second, beaten a length.
His final 400m sectional of 22.96 seconds was easily the quickest of the race – only bettered on the night by some of the Class Two sprinters.
European horses often take plenty of time to acclimatise to life at Sha Tin, but it looks like Open House is now ready to be competitive and the stable has figured out the best way to ride him.
Given that, it shouldn’t be too long before he is in the winner’s circle.
Speaking of the Class Two sprinters (and European imports), Caspar Fownes’ Seven Heavens put in his best run since arriving in his new home when second to boom sprinter Hot King Prawn and it looks like he will make the grade.