New Zealand trainer Paul O’Sullivan had Sunday’s meeting at Sha Tin circled on the calendar for some time and delivered in spades, landing his first treble in more than 18 months.
O’Sullivan was the toast of Sha Tin after his trio of Hidden Spirit, Band Of Brothers and Chicken Dance all saluted on an otherwise dour day, also marking the best start to his 15-year Hong Kong training career with five winners in the first eight meetings.
While Hidden Spirit’s win came on the all-weather surface in Class Five, both Band Of Brothers and Chicken Dance produced in Class Three and look to be on the rise as the shining lights of his stable.
“Its been a good day, when I looked at the programme about a month ago, I thought October 6 would be the first day that I would have some reasonable horses stepping out,” he said.
“So it is very pleasing that they ran well because if you walk home after not training a winner when you send some of your better horses out, it is a long walk, even though it’s only 100 yards.”
O’Sullivan credited the red-hot start to the season to his Conghua stables, which allowed him to work horses over the off-season, ensuring they are better prepared for this time of the year.
“You can only send them around the trotting ring here and you can gallop them there so you can have them more forward,” he said.
“Two seasons ago it was great, last season it was not so great but that is just Hong Kong, a few of the handicaps were adjusted on those younger horses so we just keep the head down and the bum up.”
Band Of Brothers looked all but certain to be beaten in the Sai Ying Pun Handicap (1,400m) before jockey Zac Purton lifted the five-year-old in the last 50m to a hard-fought victory over Blake Shinn on War Room.
Winning off a rating of 74, O’Sullivan’s charge could find himself rising to Class Two, a task which he could be capable of on his day, his handler believes.
“He has done a great job, he is not winning by far which suggests the handicapper is starting to get him,” he said.
“Logically, you think there is more to come, but there is going to come a time where there’s not. He has been a super-honest horse, very tractable. He has done a good job.
“Zac said he got to the front and then kind of waited for them, in his last two starts he was going to get picked off both two times and he has found something.
“In time you can see him being a good, hard Class Two horse, if you can get a horse to that in Hong Kong you have done a very good job.”
Chicken Dance bettered his stablemate’s effort just 30 minutes later in the Shek Tong Tsui Handicap (1,200m), holding off the likes of Lone Eagle and California Gungho to win under Karis Teetan.
With the four-year-old carrying just 117 pounds on his back, he is certain to stay in the grade, where O’Sullivan will look to step him up in distance.
“I think he is quite a promising horse, Chicken Dance, especially when he starts to go a little bit further like 1,600m,” he said.
It takes his combined winning margins in his last two starts to four-and-a-half lengths.
The win also rounded out a solid double for Teetan, who also rode Hidden Spirit to victory for the Kiwi trainer.