Fortune Anthem featured heavily in the stewards’ report but he looks like a horse worth following after his debut at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
The David Hall-trained three-year-old had shown some gate speed in all four of his barrier trials ahead of his first run, but with an expected strong tempo, connections were keen to find cover early from the outside barrier in the Class Four Kings Falcon Handicap (1,000m).
Jockey Sam Clipperton settled towards the tail of the field, finding a spot behind Dr Race before starting to get busy on the turn.
When looking for a run early in the straight, Clipperton had the choice of going either outside or inside Peace N Prosperity, electing the latter option.
From there, he found more trouble with Dr Race taken out by Cheers And Cheers, leaving Fortune Anthem awkwardly placed and then unable to be ridden out for the final 50m, eventually finishing eighth, three-and-a-half lengths behind the winner Flying Monkey.
Derek Leung extends his lead to four over Matthew Poon as he seeks his second consecutive Tony Cruz Award. Leung guided Flying Monkey to victory in R3 at Happy Valley #HKRacing #HappyWednesdayHK pic.twitter.com/WdBKM48efq— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) July 11, 2018
The stewards were not thrilled with Clipperton’s decision to go back inside when looking for a run, severely reprimanding him, but it was the effort of a horse with some upside.
Despite his troubles in the straight, Fortune Anthem still ran the third quickest final 400m sectional of the race.
The run had a very similar look to the debut of stablemate Lucky Time 12 months ago.
On that occasion, Lucky Time went back early before running on strongly to finish sixth before coming out to win when making his return in October.
It wouldn’t be a shock to see Fortune Anthem do a similar thing.
Another horse to catch the eye in the last Happy Valley meeting of the season was Buoyant Boy, who took out the Class Three Silver Grecian Handicap (1,200m).
The Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained four-year-old has found his feet, stringing together back-to-back wins and there could be still more in store.
He rattled home to just edge out Fantastic Feeling, with the handicapper putting him up six points meaning he will remain be in the bottom half of Class Three for his first run next season.
Buoyant Boy was laying in at times during the straight, meaning there is still room for improvement and he can be winning again early next term.