Punters weren’t the only ones who had little faith Classic Moon would fire much of a shot on debut – trainer Chris So Wai-yin even telling the owner a midfield finish would be “acceptable” – so to say it was a surprise to see him salute at $81 is an understatement.

Perhaps a lacklustre trial earlier this month put everyone off the scent, in combination with a wide gate, as Classic Moon had shown some promise in his four previous hit-outs.

In any case, the four-year-old Tavistock gelding was at his best at Sha Tin on Saturday, defying his status as a rank outsider in the Class Four Lukfook Jewellery Hexicon Handicap (1,200m).

Jockey Derek Leung Ka-chun opted to take his medicine from gate 11, going back and finding some cover in transit.

It allowed Classic Moon to unleash an impressive sprint in the straight, Leung bringing him down the centre of the track to beat Smart Wongchoy by two lengths with Joyful Genius a nose back in third.

Given So believes the four-year-old will keep improving with racing and should be better over further, it bodes well for the future.

“The horse is still green and I didn’t think he was ready to win today but he was good,” So said.

“We knew he had potential but I didn’t think he would win his first start, and from draw 11. I told the owner I thought he should run well, hopefully finish midfield – that would have been acceptable – and we plan for the next start, but luckily we won.

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“It seems like he could get further, I will speak to the owner and the jockey and see what we do next time. I don’t think I will step up straight away, I’ll give him another race at 1,200m and let him tell me what he needs. He needs further for sure but not now.

“The last runner I trained for the same owner was Classic Unicorn and at his first start he won also. He’s very lucky.”

It was the first leg of a treble for Leung, who also guided Flying Dragon to victory in the Class Four Lukfook Jewellery Heirloom Fortune Collection Handicap (1,200m) on the all-weather track.

The result was a deserved one for the four-year-old son of Per Incanto, who had been knocking on the door in his three previous starts.

A wide run throughout didn’t prove to be a problem for Flying Dragon – he was never closer than three-deep without cover – but he still had enough in hand to beat Trader and Everyone’s Victory, who dead-heated for second.

It was a welcome return to the winner’s circle for trainer Dennis Yip Chor-hong, whose run of outs had extended to 49 before Flying Dragon’s success.

The 54-year-old’s previous victory came with Solar Power on November 13 – he had six placings in that time – and he’s now taken his season tally to 10.

Leung capped off his big day with Me Tsui Yu-sak’s honest dirt specialist Gunnison, who essentially replicated Flying Dragon’s run – he was just behind the speed and wide without cover – but lifted when it mattered to edge out Magic Supreme.

The seven-year-old Gunnison now boasts a record of four wins and 14 placings from 49 Hong Kong starts and over HK$10 million in prize money.

Leung was also a dominant winner of the Jockey Challenge – he also had seconds with Light My Day and Darci Joy – upsetting Joao Moreira, who was a $1.30 favourite at the start of the meeting.

“I knew today we were going to have good results because I had good support,” said Leung, who now has 14 winners for the campaign.

“Just to draw well today meant I had some horses with good chances to do well and they have run well.

“It’s good to ride three winners.”