What a difference a pace makes, writes Alan Aitken in the HK Racing Post.

Last week we were addressing the BMW Hong Kong Derby of 2015 as a decent collection of Class Two four-year-olds with one that stood head and shoulders above them. In our view, Luger should have been a touch of odds-on - as some professional operations had him priced - and there was nothing in the manner of his win to suggest that view was mistaken.

Few horses sit three wide into the breeze around two turns and 2,000 metres and fight out the finish, let alone win clearly, unless they have a bit on the opposition or there's something amiss with the track. We can only imagine the mess Luger would have made of all those allegedly superior stayers with a softer trip. So much for pedigrees.

But, however good his performance looked, Luger's win became extraordinary and this year's Derby suddenly lit up when we sat down to dig into it.

On raw times, it was the fastest Derby since the race went to 2,000m in year 2000 and the ninth-fastest 2,000m race of any kind at Sha Tin in 12 years.

Helene Mascot's celebrated 2008 Derby win- when we had three runners ripping along four lengths ahead of the field - was a touch slower on paper but faster than Luger when the track speed was taken into account.

However, the 2008 finishing sectional was quite a bit slower and that was the remarkable aspect of Luger's win. After working wide in a tempo that was not too fast to be crazy but neither was there a breather anywhere, he was able to run sub-23 seconds down the straight. He was a sitting shot for the horses which finished 2-3-4 coming from the back half of the field but held them clearly.

All those 2,000m races which were faster than Luger's win were Group One or Two events on faster ground than Sundays' and only one - Military Attack's 0.07 seconds-faster 2014 Gold Cup romp on a quicker track - posted a finishing sectional in the same ball park.

So Luger had Obliterator to thank for making this win and this Derby the best in a decade. Last year's Derby stood out from the immediate predecessors but the class of 2015 had an edge even on that great contest.

Luger didn't surprise, but horses like Romantic Touch, Helene Happy Star and, particularly, Got Fly have improved significantly. We can only assume the true tempo made the difference to the likes of Helene Happy Star and Got Fly. They have now posted serious, open Group One standard performances that would see them competitive with our very best. That augurs positively for the standards of our top-level horses as we move ahead and Designs On Rome is still there but some of his main rivals in the past succumb to age and wear and tear.

Playing devil's advocate, the query will be whether they can reproduce these performances, as Designs On Rome does regularly, and what circumstances have to happen for them to do that - they aren't going to get Sunday's set-up every time.

We know Luger will do this again because he has done it before and he has done it again on Sunday despite a difficult race. The future for this horse is scary.