Winning Partners primed for action
IT is one of the greatest weeks of the year for racing enthusiasts. Wednesday night's Dubai World Cup is followed by this afternoon's top two-year-old event on the Australian calendar, the Golden Slipper, there is the world's most famous race, the Grand National, and in our own backyard there is one of the best Class One handicaps of the season, the L'Or de Martell Cup. Despite the 1,400-metre event being run under handicap conditions, the three class horses in the race, Helene Star, Winning Partners and Supreme Goliath, are going to take plenty of beating. Throw in Derby third, Pine Fame, and you probably have the four top hopes in the race. Veteran handler Neville Begg appears to have Winning Partners right back to his best form and yesterday Mick Kinane was on board to give the former International Bowl hero a solid blowout on the main all-weather surface. Begg does not often resort to these pre-race pipe-openers, but when he does it is a sure sign that he means business.
Winning Partners looked on very good terms with himself and yesterday's canter through 1,200 metres in one minute and 26.5 seconds served to underline Tuesday morning's impressions that Winning Partners is in peak condition and will take some beating. Friday is habitually a busy morning for Kinane who is himself in great nick and riding better than ever. He even had a winner when in Macau this week. No, he wasn't riding at the Taipa venue. Rather the winner came courtesy of the stewards when they disqualified Patrick Biancone's Charming Guest after a positive sample and promoted Rocket Green to first. Yesterday, Kinane put his and David Oughton's Derby hero, Che Sara Sara through his first semi-serious piece since the Blue Riband event and the English import did everything he was asked, coming through his final 400 metres in a sweet 26.3 as he clocked 1,200 metres in 1:24.4.
Kinane put an almost identical piece into the stable's rapidly improving Gaylord, another English import, and Gaylord is going to take plenty of stopping when he attempts a hat-trick at Happy Valley this Wednesday. He just progresses with every workout. His biggest danger may come from Wong Tang-ping's Super Freighter who has worked super since his first run for the stable when unplaced behind Way Ahead at the city venue 10 days ago. Super Freighter was at it again yesterday morning, powering through his 1,200 metres in a quality 1:16.0 under the in-form apprentice Vickie C. W. Choi who is such an asset to the Ping stable. Stephen Leung has certainly found the key to Sailing who is another who will be bidding for a hat-trick when next seen out having, like Gaylord, been something of a disappointment when first arriving.
It just goes to show how important it is to let these imports acclimatise. Oughton and Leung both refused to push their charges and have reaped the benefit. Yesterday, Sailing looked in outstanding condition as he came through 1,200 metres in happy 1:21.1 under promising seven-pound claimer Alex Yu. There were also two 1,150-metre trials on the main all-weather surface with Alex Wong Siu-tan's Rising Glory, three lengths second to Rambo in the opening heat, looking to have a definite future in the game. First trial - 1,150m: 1, RAMBO (W. L. Ho); 2, Rising Glory (F. Johansson); 3, Good Assistant (T. Y. Yip). Others (in finishing order): Fukien Boy, Fast Forward, Fortune Ring, Golden Emperor, Zaitech. Time: 1.10.2 (24.0). Distances: 3 lengths, 11/2 lengths. Winner trained by Peter Ng Bik-kuen.
Second trial - 1,150 metres: 1, ADMIRALS RUN (K. C. Tsang); 2, Royal Pride (K. C. Chan); 3, Sing Che Lover (C. H. Ko). Others: Golden Hope, Free Radical, Grand Emperor, Star Clover. Time: 1.10.0 (25.1). Distances: short head, 5 lengths. Winner trained by Wong Siu-tan.