Lifo to lift off for new mentor
LIFO is tonight strongly expected to start his new career with Peter Ng Bik-kuen with a win in the last race at Happy Valley as we know it. The hugely popular city venue closes after this evening's meeting for a multi-billion dollar overhaul which will see it re-emerge, hopefully by November of next season, as a spanking new track of truly international standing. The circumference won't be added to that much, so the Valley will retain all of its intimacy and charm. But the bends will be much more sweeping and, in keeping with the rest of the course, that much wider, so providing for full fields of 14 runners.
By the following season, it would be no surprise to see International week extended to take in some racing at the midweek fixture prior to the traditional International Day on the second Sunday in December. But in the meantime there's going to be an awful lot of drilling and boring and banging. And no little cheering if Danny Lee can bring home Lifo the well-backed winner of the last. Lifo went firmly into the notebook of anyone with even the faintest idea of how to read a race last time out - and probably in enormous red felt tip pen with triple underlinings at that.
Having raced pretty handy at his previous two outings, he was back near the rear of this field, despite having initially jumped well enough, in the race won by World Happiness from Outerwear and Flowers Treasure. He then couldn't find any racing room at the top of the straight when angled inside for a run before then being switched and powering home down the centre for fifth. In the circumstances, Lifo did well to beat so many runners home. After that run, he was an immediate stable change, joining Peter Ng for whom he has trialled in immaculate fashion since.
He also impressed in a very fluent workout from the barriers at the top of the back straight on Monday morning when dismissing stablemate Excel Treasure in summary fashion. Nor has he encountered a very strong field in tonight's mile event at the Valley, a course and distance over which he has already prevailed. The biggest worry is that sometimes when these horses have put in such an eye-catching run they don't reproduce it on their immediate start.
But if Lifo does run up to that form behind World Happiness, he must surely oblige tonight. Barrier 10 is no help, but then he is visored for the first time, he work well in the visor in that jump out on Monday, and that gear change should liven him up enough to get near the lead, despite the outside draw. And Danny Lee is very much a front-running specialist. To give the local rider his due, he really can rate one exceptionally well from the front. The biggest danger could come from the Basil Marcus-Ivan Allan camp. They are represented by Hercules who doesn't know how to run a bad race and would have won with one more stride when short-headed by Shaka Zulu over 1,235 metres at the Valley last time out.
Hercules is a doubt at the distance. But he has won over 1,400 metres before at Sha Tin so while he can't be guaranteed to stay the trip, that victory over 1,400 metres is some indication that he probably will. And if any jockey can make a horse stay a mile round the Valley it is that man Marcus, the triple defending champion and a master of his craft round these tight bends. John Moore's Canadian Champ is set to provide the other main threat to Lifo. His trainer is in outstanding form and Tony Cruz is riding on the crest of a wave and ultra keen to add another championship to his list of honours.
Canadian Champ showed he was poised to win when a close fourth to Captive Trick over 1,235 metres here last time and his breeding indicates that he will be much better suited by tonight's mile. America Supreme could be the best value in the race for those looking to play the odds and have a crack at the tierce pool. His form has been most consistent around a mile or further and he does have Gerald Mosse on board.
Dragon Jet actually beat Lifo home when they were second and third to Privilege, but Lifo had missed a considerable amount of work going into that race and needed the outing. Conversely, Dragon Jet has only had a light preparation from his last start to this race and may struggle to reproduce that second to Privilege. David Oughton's Invincible looks the other main tierce hope.