The Champ's Dragon has enough dash
FLAMBOYANT local handler Brian Kan Ping-chee has been reliving his glory years of the late 1980s when the stranglehold he exerted on the trainers' championship earned him the title by which he is still known - The Champ.
After a relatively quiet couple of seasons, preferring to aim at the big-money races rather than concentrate on the numbers game, Kan has burst back on to the scene.
Polygain's win on Saturday night took him back to the head of the standings and he again looks the trainer to follow at tomorrow night's dirt meeting at Sha Tin where Dashing Dragon looks the one to be on in the third event, the opening leg of the Triple Trio.
Dashing Dragon had no luck in running last time out but should be very well suited to racing on the dirt where he ran well earlier in the season when just knocked off in the dying strides by all-weather specialist Tim's Joy.
That came in a much harder contest than tomorrow night's Class Four affair in which it would be no surprise to see Dashing Dragon lead all the way from barrier six under Felix Coetzee.
Yesterday, Dashing Dragon went as well as he's gone all season with a particularly fluent piece on the main Sha Tin work track and he looks ideal banker material in the opening leg of the elusive Triple Trio.
The big danger is form horse Cosmolife who made virtually all the running to score down the straight 1,000-metre chute at the last meeting on the Sha Tin grass and has appeared much improved this term for first-season handler Ricky Yiu.
Kan also has a big chance in the night's final race but it could be more with Dragon Leader than Sunnyland.
Dragon Leader has done nothing but improve this season and really impressed in his final gallop yesterday morning. Generally the young Chinese handlers - Yiu, Stephen and Andy Leung, Chris Cheung and Gary Ng Ting-keung - have made a very favourable and considerable impact since being granted licences to train and Cosmolife is advertising Yiu's emerging talent.
At the bottom of the weights, it looks significant that Tony Cruz is on board the Lam Hung-fie-trained Turf Apex who is very well handicapped on a couple of runs from last season.
When a horse only does it once, his form has to be doubted but Turf Apex ran a couple of good races from ratings in the high 40s and he is now down to a mark of 38. What's more, Lam only ever calls upon Cruz's considerable services in the saddle when he expects his runner to go close.
Visiting jockey Piere Strydom has impressed everyone during his stint in the territory.
The former triple South African champion has moved swiftly to nine winners, driving home another on Saturday night in Tim's Joy. He has a good book of rides tomorrow night, partnering not only Cosmolife but the improving Paradise in the fourth event and the very much in-form Wang Tak Supreme in the opener.
Paradise ran well for a long way on his reappearance until a lack of hard racing condition took its toll.
He appeared a fair bit straighter during yesterday morning's work session and should give Strydom another good ride.
Yiu also has Solar Century going well for this second leg of the Triple Trio and Solar Century, who loves the dirt, has that man Basil Marcus on his back.
Wang Tak Supreme has come back into work this season going better than I've ever seen - markedly so. He flew home first time out over a mile on the dirt so clearly handles the surface and then ran a cracker for the apprentice when fourth to Deauville in a competitive 1,900-metre event last time out.