Tony Millard has credited an aborted Melbourne Cup campaign for helping Panfield take out the Group Two Sha Tin Trophy (1,600m) in his first run since winning the Group One Champions & Chater Cup (2,400m) in May.

Kept safe by punters as the $7.20 third favourite, Panfield’s win over the likes of Sky Field, Tourbillon Diamond and Waikuku was still a surprise from a horse who needs considerably further to show his best.

“Today was just one of those things, a class horse coming through,” Millard said. “I think he’s a little bit more forward than what I would have thought because we were getting him ready for the Melbourne Cup. He was a little bit further forward than what he would have normally been.”

In a race completely devoid of speed, Karis Teetan positioned Panfield one off the rail in midfield before rousting the five-year-old into action 550m from home, steering the galloper out towards the best part of the track and assuming the lead 200m out.

After a first 800m that was run almost a second outside standard, $19 chance Preciousship was the only one taking any significant ground off Panfield late with just two-and-three-quarter lengths covering the field.

“Today he took out most of the top milers in Hong Kong, barring [Golden Sixty],” Millard said. “He’s a really honest type of a horse and a nice hard-knocking horse and it’s an absolute pleasure.

“We certainly gave him a good preparation, he was a little bit on the big side but as the horses get older sometimes they come to a higher norm, they’re just bigger and stronger. Certainly he was stronger here today when they came at him and he went again.”

Millard confirmed both the Cup (2,000m) and the Vase (2,400m) remain on the table at December’s Hong Kong International Races, with Panfield to step out in the Group Two Jockey Club Cup (2,000m) next month on the way to the big dance.

Trainer Tony Millard looks over the victorious Panfield.

“He’ll go to the 2,000m, he won’t run before that. If he’d missed here I might have gone for the Ladies’ Purse but it was a hard run today so we’ll go straight for the 2,000m,” the South African trainer said.

Millard praised Teetan’s efforts in the saddle and Mauritian is excited for what lies ahead for Panfield, who did win a Group One over 1,700m in Chile pre-import.

“He’s mentally and physically a different horse. Last season I won on him and I felt like he was a big, galloping horse who did not know much but had ability,” Teetan said.

A jubilant Karis Teetan.

“This season I can feel that mentally he’s there and physically he’s starting to get better and use himself better. This horse is really improving all the time.”

While Panfield laid down a marker for bigger and better things to come, Hong Kong Derby winner and Sunday’s $2.70 favourite Sky Darci was crowded in the straight after travelling at the back of the field and trainer Caspar Fownes labelled it a complete forget run.

Fownes was pleased with the effort of Columbus County, who finished solidly into fourth at a distance well short of his best, while $4.40 second elect Tourbillon Diamond finished a three-quarter-length third and Waikuku was a fading ninth in his first run since April.