Ping's season in the sun gains momentum
ASTUTE local handler Wong Tang-ping is enjoying one of the best seasons of his distinguished career.
He has sent out 31 winners and is only five behind leader, Patrick Biancone, in the race for training honours which more and more looks to concern just these two plus the in-form John Moore.
Defending champion Ivan Allan can't be written off, that would be a very dangerous thing, but he has a mountain to climb to pull back 10 winners on Biancone in the last third of the season, especially as his luck is well and truly out. He's saddled fully 40 seconds and 37 thirds to go with his 26 winners.
But Ping's stable continues to shine, both on racedays and in the mornings and yesterday his rising star, Flowers Treasure, put in another scintillating gallop on the main all-weather track. Ridden by the American ace, Gary Stevens, who has introduced another dimension to race-riding in the territory, Flowers Treasure eased fully six lengths clear of Win Tack over the final 100 metres of yesterday's workout.
So what, you might say. Isn't Win Tack only a Class Six performer? That he may be, but he's a very good worker and a useful guide to how whoever works alongside him is going. Yesterday, it was hard to expect Flowers Treasure to do more than he did and on this kind of work there should be at least one more win in him before the curtain falls.
Ping has done a great job with Northern Fire Ball this campaign. Enigmatic the gelding may be in a finish as he habitually hangs in. But he's also very talented and has not run a bad race despite being up for some seven months. Yesterday, he went better than Miss Piggy in another searching piece and clearly holds his form well.
There was nothing wrong with the way Miss Piggy went, either. He was noted staying on well in a recent outing and this gallop served as a reminder that he could pop up again before the season is out. What should be asked about Miss Piggy is how whichever Jockey Club official is responsible for overseeing horses names ratified this one.
The best thing that can be said is that it hasn't stopped him winning. Tony Cruz edged further clear in the jockey standings at the weekend, courtesy of his dazzling Gold Cup display on the impressive Makarpura Star. The local riding idol is now on 35 winners for the term, four clear of Basil Marcus.
Cruz was right in the thick of things during trackwork yesterday as he bids for a sixth title. Planet, the progressive Lam Hung-fie-trained stayer, went especially sweetly for him as he had done in a similar piece of work a week ago.
Planet may have already won twice this season, but the way he is travelling through his morning sessions there could be another success on the way. Bounty also moved well for Cruz and is worth keeping tabs on. He appears to be trained with a specific race in mind and is going to be very hard to beat. There were also two trials on the main all-weather surface.
The horse to note from them was the Biancone-trained private purchase griffin, Helene Treasure, who kept on very strongly to the line having been restrained beyond mid-division in the second heat for much of the way.