It’s been “a long time” since David Hall has had 20 new horses in his care and the rejuvenation of his stable takes another step on Wednesday night when three of them step out at Happy Valley.
Joyful Genius, Flying Giant and Solid Impact will have their first Hong Kong starts at the midweek meeting as the Australian trainer continues to build into the new season.
Hall is excited to see what those new additions are capable of but admits it wasn’t a deliberate process to overhaul the roster.
“It’s just how it falls sometimes. Some years you don’t get anywhere near as many opportunities and other years you do,” he said.
“A lot of horses left last year but even before that happened, we were in the process of getting these new ones anyway – obviously I was going to need them. It’s good to have the new ones but they also take some time.”
That is the obvious caveat – when you begin the season with over a third of your stable yet to grace a Hong Kong track on race day, expectations have to be tempered.
Hall has had a winner and nine placegetters from his 33 runners so far and hopes he can build some momentum.
“If you’ve got 20 new horses they’re going to slow you down a little bit,” he said.
“We haven’t had too many runners in the market as such but we’ve had quite a few placegetters – six thirds and three seconds – so they’re running OK for what we’ve had out there so far but of course hopefully we can build from here.”
Of the three first-starters on Wednesday night, it is Solid Impact who creates the most interest after a couple of strong trials.
The four-year-old son of Sweynesse had a win and three placings from four runs in New Zealand when known as Explosively, with two of those placings coming in Group contests.
“He’s put his hand up and shown that he’s ready to go to the races. I’m looking forward to him running that’s for sure,” said Hall, who also acknowledged that Flying Giant and Joyful Genius will probably need the experience.
“He’s shown a few positive things, obviously he hasn’t been to the Valley and you’re always a little dubious about how they’re going to put it all together in their first run in Hong Kong but he’s a competitive little horse and he was generally trying pretty hard in his races in New Zealand and he seems to be the same way here in his work and his trials.”
Chad Schofield takes the ride in the Class Three Causeway Bay Handicap (1,200m) but he will have to overcome barrier nine, which seems to be a theme of the night for Hall’s runners.
“I don’t think the barrier gods are looking after us on Wednesday – Son Of Makfi in eight, Total Power in 11, Solid Impact in nine and now [Joyful Genius] in 12,” he said. “The barriers are always going to make things a bit difficult.”
Away from the first-starters, Son Of Makfi was solid when sixth in his first-up performance at Sha Tin and should be in the mix for the Class Four Quarry Bay Handicap (1,650m), while Total Power resumes in the Class Three Fortress Hill Handicap (1,650m), looking to build on last season’s efforts which netted two wins.