Hongkong Great is all class at trials
Full marks also to Silent Is Gold, while Red Maned wins hit-out with plenty in the tank
We have heard it said: the cream always rises to the top. Well, you had better believe it.
Take the trials held at Kranji on Tuesday morning.
Hongkong Great was having his first hit-out since that awesome run in November, when he lifted the time-honoured Singapore Gold Cup from under the noses of Kranji’s elite.
After a nice break, the tough stayer is back and is looking as awesome as ever.
Come to think of it, he appears to be in even greater shape than the horse we knew from the season just concluded.
Down to contest the second of four trials on Tuesday, Hongkong Great was the one who caught the eye.
That alone was an honour, more so when the other runners including the likes of Mr Black Back, Trumpy and Silent Is Gold.
And when the trial got under way, your eyes were drawn to him.
As it turned out, he was not difficult to follow.
Ridden by Vlad Duric, he was always prominent, holding second spot behind Silent Is Gold who had Ronnie Stewart doing the steering.
Around 600 metres from home, he was still there in second spot, but gaining on the leader.
Mr Black Back, the mount of Wong Chin Chuen, made a forward move to sit third but he was never going to get a sniff of Hongkong Great’s withers.
A furlong out and Duric let him go. He relished the freedom and quickly put Silent Is Gold to the sword.
He then romped home to score by ½-length. His time for the 1,000m was 59.24sec. It was the swiftest of the morning’s winners.
But it was to be expected. He was, after all, the cream of the crop and, yes, he deserved to sit on top.
Trained by Ricardo Le Grange, the Chilean-bred seven-year-old by Lookin At Lucky looks to be back where his connections would like him to be.
He is nearing the top of his game. The break of two months has not taken the shine off him and, by the time the rich staying races come along, Le Grange will have him looking like the winner we saw in November.
Full marks must also go to Silent Is Gold.
He ran a terrific trial to take second. At four years old, he could still be learning the ropes and in Stephen Gray he has an astute master.
An out-and-out sprinter, he had a terrific 2022 season.
From just 10 starts, he picked up three wins, two seconds and a third.
And to think, we have not yet seen him at his best.
A son of Star Turn, Silent Is Gold is already sitting on a rating of 73.
Last time out, on Jan 14, he ran a terrific race, finishing a smack-up fourth in that contest won by Street Of Dreams.
He clocked 59.30sec. It tells us he is ready to play with the big boys.
Another good winner on Tuesday was Red Maned.
Running in the third trial of the morning, he had Stewart in the saddle.
Unlike what it was in Trial No. 2 when Stewart and Silent Is Gold were caught by Hongkong Great, there was no easy surrender of the lead this time.
A clear leader on settling, Stewart and Red Maned had Manoel Nunes on Legacy Fortune tracking them all the way.
But, for all his efforts, Legacy Fortune had a snowball’s chance in hell to get the better of the front runner.
Red Maned was just too swift and he found the finish with half a length to spare.
A New Zealand-bred by Burgundy, Red Maned ran the trip in a commendable 1min 00.69sec.
Trainer Stephen Crutchley would have been pleased with his youngster, who has now won three of his five trials.
Red Maned has yet to put a win on the board in an actual race but, in his defence, he has only had three starts.
Mark him down as a horse to follow.
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