Potential excitement machine Refined Treasure looks set for a breakout season after the Tony Millard-trained sprinter trialled for the first time on Tuesday morning.
The speedy gelding turned heads last term when he won three from four starts racing over 1,000m up the Sha Tin straight.
Under a tight hold from jockey Chad Schofield, Refined Treasure ran comfortably behind a fast pace and finished off strongly in the 1,050m trial.
No fixed plan for the son of Lope de Vega has been set out by Millard yet, with the stable set to take a cautious approach to his upcoming campaign. Millard last season declared his rising star “could be anything”.
Such was the dominance of his three victories to date, his rating has jumped from 52 to 80 in the space of just three starts.
Schofield was bullish about the future of the horse, saying he profiled well to win sprint races in Hong Kong.
“He felt great, obviously it’s the first trial back and we just let him be,” he said. “I loved the way he travelled up the straight, he wasn’t asked any questions but he felt great.”
Over his short career to date, Refined Treasure has shown his racing versatility, having won going forward and settling off the pace.
He has also managed to carry the top weight of 133 pounds and comfortably win, albeit in Class Four company.
“He is just such an athletic horse that has so much ability, he does it very comfortably,” Schofield said.
“They were running along in that trial and he was just doing it very easily, I had a good hold on him up the straight.
“He is got a lot of room to improve fitness-wise, but he is a hard horse to gauge because he does it so comfortably.
“He can lead 1,000m races very comfortably, that is how much speed he has, but at the same time he also relaxes.”
In order to enter the top echelon on Hong Kong sprinters, Refined Treasure will need to step up to 1,200m eventually, however Schofield believes it wont present any troubles.
“He always leads those races in lesser company and has been way too good, but up to 1,200 around a bend, he’s never done it before but I can’t see a reason why he wouldn’t manage,” he said.
The John Size-trained Conte also stepped out on Tuesday morning, turning in an eye-catching trial in a hot field.
The five-year-old was only beaten once in six starts last season after winning his first five races at an average starting price of $1.4.
Sam Clipperton is in the box seat to gain the ride on the exciting son of Starcraft after riding him in his two trials to date. Joao Moreira has ridden the horse in all six starts thus far.
“As a feel, with what he’s given me, he is heading in the right direction, he is trialling nicely,” he said.
“He is a big powerhouse of a horse, very strong, very big so it probably takes a bit of time to get really fit.”
After a breakthrough win on Hot King Prawn on Sunday, Clipperton said he wasn’t feeling added pressure to ride well for Size with the impending arrival of Moreira as his stable jockey.
“It’s important, but at the same time, John is so good to ride for, he understands circumstances, he understands it’s not all a walk in the park out there,” he said.
“He wouldn’t want me going out there thinking ‘I’ve got to do this,’ he would want me going out there and riding to the best of my ability and thinking clearly and riding like I always try to ride, whether it’s for John Size, Manfred Man, anybody.”
David Hall’s injury plagued Little Giant also trialled well in the same batch after winning first-up off an 11-month lay-off due to foot problems.
Hall said he expected Little Giant to head to a Class One race over 1,400m on November 10.