Heart Wood can make his mark
The Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained Heart Wood has been on the verge of doing something worthwhile, but the five-year-old gets his best chance to do it in the Ta Kung Pao 110th Anniversary Cup (1,650m) at Happy Valley tonight.
Quite an experienced horse, with 14 starts for four wins in New Zealand, Heart Wood (Weichong Marwing) first caught the eye running a handy fourth to Glorious Days on his local debut in November.
That should have seen him prominent before now, but the records show Heart Wood had problems and December was something of a wipe-out for him, with Man having to start again in January.
Two more prep runs after that and Heart Wood was competitive again two starts ago at the Valley extended mile behind Flying Unicorn, sharing the lead before he was beaten less than two lengths.
And his latest outing at Sha Tin over 1,400m confirmed the gelding is now going well enough to win one. Heart Wood sat right off the track before sticking on for fourth to Plentiful.
While it did look a benefit to be finishing off wide on that wet afternoon, the rule of thumb is that there is usually no advantage to being out there for the whole race, so Heart Wood's run takes on some merit.
He has drawn gate one and Marwing can lead or take the box-seat trail, depending on what the other forward runners, Snitzel Kid (Mark du Plessis) and Jimson The Best (Tye Angland) want to do as they press on from wider draws.
That wide alley is the main issue for the Caspar Fownes-trained Snitzel Kid, though he still appeals as a major danger. He has become a solid performer in the top of Class Four/bottom of Class Three zone and he finished third in that Flying Unicorn race before failing at his most recent run.
His jockey, Tim Clark, told stewards the gelding raced 'flat' and that is no surprise as it was Snitzel Kid's third start in 11 days. Fownes has freshened him up since and we should see a better version of Snitzel Kid if he can overcome that tricky barrier.