His unbeaten run ended at five last month but boom four-year-old Fantastic Treasure lost no admirers in a run Chad Schofield has labelled “a winning effort without winning”.
Back from a five-month break and at a trip short of his best, Fantastic Treasure thundered home from behind midfield to finish a narrow third behind Trillion Win and Lucky More over six furlongs.
“I’m very happy with the way he came back, obviously over a distance which was too short for him. He was very strong to the line and in another stride or two, he wins the race. I was disappointed he didn’t remain unbeaten but he came back well,” Schofield said.
Trillion Win has won again to frank the form, dead-heating with the smart Fantastic Way with Lucky More a nose behind in third, and Fantastic Treasure looks beautifully placed stepping up in grade for the Class One Panasonic Cup (1,400m).
The son of Written Tycoon will carry seven pounds less than his last outing and Schofield should be able to position the galloper nicely in midfield from gate two.
“I’m thrilled with the barrier. He should be able to sit in a nice, handy position without working too hard. The race should be truly run with Buddies there,” said trainer David Hayes. “With a truly run 1,400m race, he’ll get into a nice rhythm and will be hard to beat.”
Defending Panasonic Cup champion Buddies is one of Fantastic Treasure’s 10 opponents in a race that will see John Size-trained trio Excellent Proposal, Lucky Express and Silver Express resume and Duke Wai and Californiadeepshot look to continue their consistent seasons.
A win would send Fantastic Treasure’s rating into triple figures as he plots a course towards the first leg of the four-year-old series, January’s Classic Mile.
“He’s a horse of a lot of quality. Hopefully he can keep winning and head towards the series with a nice sequence of wins under his belt,” Schofield said.
“He’s a much bigger, strong horse and mentally he’s very good. He’s improving as he gets further into his preparation.”
Recently overtaken at the head of the trainers’ table, Hayes will also turn to another four-year-old as he looks to keep pace with Frankie Lor Fu-chuen, who has pulled two wins clear.
Vento makes his debut from gate nine under Zac Purton in the Class Four Panasonic Inverter Window Air-Conditioner Handicap (1,000m) after a string of promising trials.
“The stable in Australia acquired him. The team that bought him gave him to my sons and they tested him at Lindsay Park and they agreed that he looked pretty good,” Hayes said.
“We’re happy with him. He looks like he’s got gate speed and he travels nicely. What I like about him is that he’s got a really nice, relaxed demeanour. I think he’ll be well suited to Hong Kong racing.
“We want to have him in a comfortable rhythm and he’s on the right side of the track. Zac won’t have to work too hard to be on the right side of the track, where all the other jockeys will want to be.”
Hayes also unveils Australian import Birdsville in the Class Three Panasonic 6-Door Refrigerator Handicap (1,200m), while Witty Scholar, Awe, Most Welcome and Fearless Fire round out his hand.