Oliver shows his touch of class
INTERNATIONAL Cup-winning jockey Damien Oliver rode trackwork for the first time at Sha Tin yesterday and immediately took centre stage as his mount in the sixth heat, the dual-winning Kenzig, put in classiest effort of the morning. The brilliant Oliver, expected to make a considerable impact as a Club Jockey during the final three months of the season, sat virtually motionless as the David Hayes-trained three-year-old ran home fifth to Enthusiasm. Kenzig was going much better than anything else throughout his trial and is improving all the time.
The form around Kenzig is solid as Hong Kong Legend, demoted to second to him at Happy Valley, and Top-Worth, his victim at Sha Tin, have both been placed since. And as Kenzig is still only a three-year-old, he is going to progress naturally over the next 12 months or so. Indeed, given how the local weight-for-age scale operates against these younger horses, it is a measure of his quality that he has already won twice, albeit one of them courtesy of the stewards.
Oliver is as interesting as Kenzig. He is widely regarded as the best jockey riding in Australia - better even than Darren Beadman who was such a fantastic rider up here until his nine-month disqualification - and the best since Mick Dittman was in his pomp. And Hayes, for whom Oliver has ridden countless Group race winners in Australia, is as big a fan as the man in the street corner TAB.
Hayes stressed: 'Damien's just a freak. He's a real winner. He has that winning knack about him. He's simply the best rider that Australia has produced in years and definitely the equal of Mick Dittman at his best.' Oliver had precious few chances when here for a month at the end of the season before last, scoring on two virtually unconsidered 40-1 chances Rotary King and Champion Mascot.
But he showed all his class when riding the perfect front-running race on State Taj to get connections the cash at 30-1 in last season's International Cup and should come in for much better rides this time round.
What will be interesting to see is if Oliver's style changes through exposure to the great Northern Hemisphere riders who are here, especially as Hayes has been so taken by their prowess.
In yesterday's trial, Oliver kept Kenzig on a longish rein and the best Australian jockeys - Oliver, Dittman and Beadman - all ride on a longer rein than their less accomplished counterparts. In other trials, Patrick Biancone's griffin King Prawn Star looked something special in the final heat and is betting material. The other griffin to go into the notebook was Geoff Lane's Bear Supreme. He has already won, but the way he cruised home fourth to in the fourth heat, hard on the bit, suggested he will be winning again. First trial _ 1,000 metres: 1, DOUBLE WINS (C. K. Chung); 2, Each Own Way (G. Mosse); 3, Magic Fingers (B. Marcus). Others (in finishing order): Gainsborough's Boy, Admiralty Fortune, Charisma, Bon Voyage, Benji, Golden Hope, Hoi Fung Star, Celestial King, Good Partner, Genuine Pearls. Time: 1.00.0 (23.8). Distances: 21/2 lengths, 1/2 length. Winner trained by Lam Hung-fie.
Second trial _ 1,000 metres: 1, SUPREME MONARCH (K. C. Chan); 2, Jolly Good Winner (G. Childs); 3, Wonderful Star (F. Coetzee). Others: Virtus Pride, Preside, Smooth Journey, Warm Winter, Allura Red, Intrepid Star, Citiluck, Congratulation, Celestial Might, Spanish Duty, Gallant Middy. Time: 0.59.9 (24.0). Distances: neck, 2 lengths. Winner trained by Wong Yu-on.
Third trial _ 1,000 metres: 1, FORTUNE WORLD (K. H. Ting); 2, Lucky Partners (B. Marcus); 3, Best Wishes (C. H. Ko). Others: Bear Supreme, Applause For Me, We Know When, Good Dividend, Lucky Guest, Rare View, Well Know Supreme, Mr Belief, I'm A Ripper, Second To None, Free Radical. Time: 1.00.3 (24.0). Distances: 1 length, 1 length. Winner trained by Tse Yan-sid.
Fourth trial _ 1,000 metres: 1, KING OF FLASH (G. Childs); 2, Clean Them Up (W. H. Tse); 3, Streak Of Dawn (S. M. Tam). Others: Max Label, Mighty Mighty, Lucky Optimists, Guts, Casey's Drum, Powernamic, Kaapargen, Hunter's Fortune, Dashing Boy, Lionheart. Time: 0.59.0 (24.0). Distances: neck, 21/2 lengths. Winner trained by Ricky Yiu Poon-fai.
Fifth trial _ 1,000 metres: 1, SWIFTY-SWIFTY (B. Marcus); 2, The Lobbos (F. Johansson); 3, Hoppsan (G. Childs). Others: Winning Team, Namjong Brothers, Club Star, Wonderful Winners, Jacqwin, Jade Lake, Flying Free, Super Horse II, Great Honour, Goldchin Star, Winning Kid. Time: 1.00.8 (24.4). Distances: neck, 2 lengths. Winner trained by Ivan Allan.
Sixth trial _ 1,000 metres: 1, ENTHUSIASM (K. M. So); 2, Perfect Smile (D. Holland); 3, Electric Flash (W. M. Lai). Others: Just For Pleasure, Kenzig, Charity Supporters, Smiling, Polar Star, Super Freighter, Pasha, Kung Hei, Gold Venture, Winner's Special. Time: 0.59.7 (24.0). Distances: 21/2 lengths, neck. Winner trained by Lawrie Fownes.
Seventh trial _ 1,000 metres: 1, KING PRAWN STAR (E. Legrix); 2, Keen Talent (P. W. Kong); 3, Make It Easy (C. H. Ko). Others: Mission Sealed, Savvy Trio, Danzighill, Grand Baron, Perfect Sport, Ashflash, Toy Symphony, Trademark, Fire-Fighter, Green King, Mighty Prince. Time: 1.00.7 (23.7). Distances: 1 length, 1/2 lengths. Winner trained by Patrick Biancone.