Forced to race wide under restraint from Silvestre de Sousa having been drawn ten, Elusive State covered more ground than his main rivals but moved up steadily on the final bend.
Raging Blitzkrieg (115lb) and Circuit Glory (116lb) did their best to kick for home early in the straight, but Elusive State was in full cry by this stage and a storming late run saw him beat that pair with authority.
Elusive State has now his last five races, improving from a rating of 51 to 80 prior to today’s HK$1.95m contest.
A further rise for this success looks set to take him into the high 80’s, but Millard is aware that the gelding needs to prove himself yet again and is hoping another high-quality AWT contest is on the menu when Hong Kong’s racing calendar for March is finalized.
“He’s a very good horse and if he hadn’t run four wide the whole way he wins by twenty yards,” added Millard.
“He needs to earn more rating points, but if they do put on a race in March and he can win it then we’ll see.”
Brazilians in charge as de Sousa trebles up
De Sousa has been averaging better than two winners a week since his return to Hong Kong in early November and memories of a rare blank at Happy Valley in midweek were put firmly aside with two earlier winners aboard one horse who has come way down in the handicap and another who is climbing the ladder.
The Brazilian was seen at his strongest when John Moore’s Midnight Rattler broke a losing run of 24 stretching back to April 2017 in the Hoi Ping Handicap (1200m), while Right Choice responded to the fitting of blinkers to make it two wins from just three attempts in the Yun Ping Handicap (1400m).
Right Choice looks another bright prospect for Frankie Lor and his former boss John Size has an equally promising youngster on his hands in the shape of Tornado Twist.
The champion trainer’s fears that the three-year-old’s inexperience might result in a slow start proved well founded, but Tornado Twist produced a whirlwind finish in the Ventris Handicap (1200m) to score with plenty in hand in the manner of a horse who could go far this season.
Poon takes inside track as Dragon strikes again