Deauville's timely win has mark of a champion
By TONY HARBIDGE (Topspeed)
DEAUVILLE stamped himself a future champion with an outstanding performance in the Ladies' Purse Handicap at Sha Tin on Saturday. In this game there are far too many false dawns, but in recording a Topspeed rating of 81 Deauville produced a time performance to back up his lofty ambitions. You don't need a long memory to put this effort into perspective. The previous week's action saw stable companion Helene Star shoot to the forefront of the International Cup lineup with a short-head success over Champman River.
He clocked a speed figure of 80 for that win, while another Patrick Biancone-trained top-notcher Bumper Star stands at the top of the season's Topspeed rankings with a rating of 82. It is clear that Deauville is a performer right out of the top drawer and, when one considers Horse Of The Year Makarpura Star went into last year's Derby on a speed figure of 83, even at this early stage Deauville already looks a natural favourite for this season's renewal.
It is not that any of this should have come as any surprise. This son of Groom Dancer has always looked a potential star, consistently producing top flight time ratings in his griffin season and ranking second only to Red Jeans with a first season rating of 68. Clearly Saturday's run was simply fulfilling the potential displayed last campaign and, returning improved figures with every outing, Deauville's full capabilities have surely yet to be tapped.
Biancone's post-race comments that 'while Timah [the runner-up] is a very honest horse and very good in these handicaps, there is no way that Deauville beat a strong field' are well taken, but the clock doesn't care about the opposition and make no mistake Deauville produced a time performance that proves himself out of the top drawer.
That said, it is always easier for a horse to produce his best against company that is unable to apply any meaningful pressure. So often a young horse is overfaced early on and lack of battle hardiness can cause him to crack under pressure, leaving an indelible scar that can effectively send him backwards. Clearly, the French maestro trainer is not going to fall into that trap and Deauville's planned campaign should ensure healthy dividends.
There was nothing of the class of Deauville on show for the midweek evening meeting. But the tote pays out on winners whatever the grade and the Sutherland Handicap for classes five and six gallopers over 2,000 metres produced the best performance on the clock relative to class. With outsider Beautiful Star landing the spoils it went down in many books as a race to disregard in future but think again. Recording a Topspeed of 34 compared to his official race rating of 24, the time suggests the win was in no way a fluke.
Indeed, four runs at around the same Topspeed rating last season, this run appeals as very much an accurate reflection of Beautiful Star's abilities, despite his starting price. In short, at the level this is a race that can be taken as a solid form line and considering his traffic problems the runner-up Treasure appeals as one who will definitely be going one better soon.
The five-year-old showed nothing on his only run last season but has now shaped with great promise on all three starts this campaign. Towards the rear turning for home, he stayed on in good style to record a solid 27 time figure, despite having his progress stopped early in the straight. Earning a Topspeed of 33 on his last start, he has already shown he is better than this and will surely repay those who supported him to second favourite last week.