Everbright can kick Yiu to double figures
IMPRESSIVE first-season trainer Ricky Yiu can enter double figures for the season with Everbright in the second event on tonight's Happy Valley card. Yiu has made just about the brightest starts of any of the young local handlers in recent years with the exception of Derek Cruz. Gary Ng, Stephen Leung and Andy Leung have all done well, but Yiu has achieved the most. His nine wins are only part of the story. The other is that his horses look magnificent in the mornings. Yiu must be a fantastic feeder as it doesn't matter from which trainer he has acquired his stock, they all seem to improve in condition and developing a real sheen to their coats. Everbright put the writing on the wall last time out when ridden by the seven-pound claimer James Chan.
On a number of occasions, Chan has shown himself to be very adept when up on the speed, but this time he probably committed Everbright too soon in a strongly run race where the 400-metre split times became progressively slower. The result was that the grey had nothing left in those vital dying strides and not only was he caught close home by Zakarad, he was also knocked out of the quinella spot by Winford.
But the first three did draw clear of Vital Point who stayed on reasonably well for fourth, still looking a bit above himself despite a number of runs this season, and when the first two or three dominate the rest of a full field of 14 horses in this way it is nearly always a sign of good form. This race was the first time that Everbright had been really right all season and since then he has blossomed in his trackwork. His final gallop on Monday morning was, by some way, the best he's moved all season and he looks primed to take plenty of beating tonight over the same 1,800-metre course and distance over which he was that close third last time out.
What's more he appears to have struck a weaker field than last time and now has the master French jockey, Eric Legrix, doing the steering rather than James Chan. Legrix is just the right jockey for such a grinding type as Everbright as he knows exactly how to pace a race and has great hands and balance. Horses arrive there to win their race without having had to expend any excess energy. They arrive there to contest the finish fresh horses.
This is Legrix's forte and it is more important than being able to ride a dynamic finish. Legrix's finishing is plenty good enough, don't worry about that. But it is the ground he saves through a race which makes him such a top rider. The ground he saves is nearly always much more than any jockey can make up by riding a whirlwind finish. Ivan Allan, who beat Everbright with Zakarad last time, could well provide the biggest danger again. This time it comes in the shape of Acquisition who has had two runs at well short of his best distance since making all over a mile for a very strong win from Flamme D'Or and Partner in early January.
The move to 1,800 metres should suit Acquisition ideally now he is that bit older and stronger and he has run well at the Valley before. Win Tack is more commonly associated with dirt racing these days. But he has won on the grass in the past and his work has been good since his recent second to Trustwell on the all-weather surface.
He will also see out the 1,800-metre trip no problems at all and given that trainer Wong Tang-ping allows his stable apprentice Vickie C. W. Choi to keep the ride, Win Tack could also start at good odds. Blazing Ballad showed much improved form last time out when running home strongly to be fourth to Make Merry in a Class Four 1,400-metre contest on a rain-affected track at Sha Tin.
He will be suited by the demotion into Class Five and the move up to 1,800 metres and is a real chance for the brilliant young Australian jockey Damien Oliver to shine. On that recent outing, Blazing Ballad is definitely worth including in quinellas with Everbright, especially as his gallop on Monday morning was the best he's gone all season. There more of a zip about him, compared to his previous rather laboured work.
Chief Commander ran better in the blinkers last time when staying on to be fifth to Fashion Delux over a mile at Sha Tin and is a rough hope of running into the tierce behind Everbright at big odds.