Yiu factor to work wonders for Leader
FEW local handlers have made such an impression in so short a time as first-season trainer Ricky Yiu. He conjured a win from the headstrong William's Tact at the last meeting before Christmas and that was no mean effort as the nervy son of Tasso had previously been with such luminaries as Patrick Biancone and David Hill.
On Monday, Yiu sends out Basketball Leader for the first time and this Australian import looks worthy banker material in the sixth event, the Craigengower Cricket Club Challenge Cup which is also the final leg of what promises to be a bumper Triple Trio with $32 million carried forward.
Basketball Leader shapes as if he will stay the 2,000-metre trip and while there was absolutely nothing wrong with his form for his previous mentor, Stephen Leung, he appears to be going even better these days. He put in a particularly strong effort to win a recent barrier trial down the straight 1,000-metre chute in which the further they went, the better he went.
And yesterday he moved with great ease and fluency under the top British jockey Richard Quinn who is riding with plenty of confidence. Quinn won the staying event during the final meeting before Christmas and generally speaking the British-based riders have excelled in the distance races in the territory for the very sound reason that they ride in so many more of them than their Southern Hemisphere counterparts.
The popular English and Irish Derby-winning jockey Alan Munro is back in town for his six-month Club Jockey stint and he looks to be one of Quinn's biggest rivals in the Craigengower Cricket Club Cup on his regular ride from last season, All Good. The Peter Ng Bik-kuen-trained stayer can be expected to step up on his recent fourth at the Valley as he'd missed work before that race and travelled plenty wide enough through the run that day. He worked well yesterday when dominating stablemate, The Academy, who is just starting to show the promise he did in his work at the end of last season. He could be one to note in a low-grade handicap later on.
Others to note in this tough race - hence its selection as the final leg of the Triple Trio - are Super Missile, who was badly hampered last time, Drifting Away, who remains in top form and had no luck in running last time either, and Miss Piggy who is fitter and could well go close at big odds. Frankie Dettori rode Miss Piggy last time over a mile. I prefer Miss Piggy's chances at this 2,000-metre trip with the promising James Chan taking seven pounds from his back. And because Frankie rode him last time, the public are liable to dismiss his chances and let him start at any old odds. Don't be fooled by that one.