Holland enjoys life in the fast Lane
AUSTRALIAN trainer Geoff Lane has had a great start to the new season and his link-up with talented English rider Darryll Holland looks like being one of the success stories of the campaign.
Lane, a superb rider in his time, has been quick to give Holland as much support as possible from the stable and they can pick up another worthwhile winner in the sixth event today where Shining Winner can oblige for the duo.
Shining Winner is an admirably consistent galloper who came within a length of victory under Tony Cruz in his first run of the season over today's trip of 1,400 metres.
While Lane had him well forward for his seasonal re-appearance there was almost certainly a little tightening up left to do and the second-placing behind Top Performance will have removed all traces of ring rustiness.
Holland rode a copybook race from in front when landing Way Ahead in the final event last week and from the rails draw today, he will have Shining Winner perfectly placed in the run.
Second-time blinkered Daiquiri has improved since his first outing over a mile while Cop The Cash appears to have been thriving under Wong Tang-ping.
He has not been seen for some time but does look primed for a top showing first-up.
Another trainer with no reason to complain about his early form is David Hayes, who is slipping smoothly into the Hong Kong racing routine and produced an exciting winner on Wednesday night when Above All produced a top-notch success to give the former Australian champion his fourth winner.
And he can add to that tally with Fun And Smile in the fifth event today when the horse runs for the second time under his tutelage.
Fun And Smile produced an excellent first-up effort for Hayes and claimer Raymond S. M. Tam over the unsuitable 1,050-metre trip on the all-weather surface.
The five-year-old Petoski gelding came home over the top of them to take a close-up third place to all-the-way winner Speedstar with Ellen's Conduct splitting the quinella. For today's 1,400-metre Class Three event, this was an excellent preparatory effort on the dirt and Fun And Smile is a course and distance winner so he does look to have very substantial claims in a race with few chances.
Fun And Smile, ridden today by Steven King, was tried over longer trips last season but was largely unsuccessful and, at this stage, today's 1,400 metres does tend to look ideal for him.
It is a logical step up from the short sprint on the dirt and Hayes will have him turned out in tip-top shape.
The most interesting runner in the race is actually Gold Crystal, trained by Peter Tse Yan-sid who got his second winner of the season when Beautiful Star obliged at bid odds on Wednesday.
Gold Crystal, again ridden by Eric Legrix, was spotted making strong late progress over 1,200 metres last time and will certainly be better suited by the longer trip.
However, he may still need this run and a mile but he should be kept safe as this one will win a race.
Irish import Chater Sovereign put in a top run last time over today's trip when his condition probably gave out and he will clearly be the better for that run. He has not been well served at the barrier draw (13) and Holland will have to be wide awake on this fellow. But he does rate an obvious form chance.
Should Run For Me hasn't actually run for anyone for a very long time but reappears here and has been responsible for some good lead-up work suggesting that connections have decided on a first-up crack at the money with a galloper who has had his problems.