Two wins help champ mark time in title hunt
By LAWRENCE WADEY
DEFENDING champion jockey Basil Marcus was in no mood to relinquish his title at Sha Tin yesterday, banging in a short-priced double for retaining trainer David Hill.
Marcus scored an emphatic victory on L'Enjoleur in the opener and then rode Mustang to a classy win in the fourth.
And how badly the pugnacious South African jockey needed those two as they kept him in touch in the title race.
Marcus moved onto 17 winners for the season on a day which also saw doubles for championship leader Tony Cruz and for joint second Gerald Mosse.
But the best is almost certainly yet to come for Marcus and Hill as Hill's team is habitually brought gradually to peak fitness and never really hits peak form until the last half of the season.
Mustang is a classic example of a Hill-trained horse. The former subscription griffin was not fully wound up for his seasonal debut when seventh to Glory Of India and was appreciably fitter but still far from full potential when a good second to Aashiq.
He then started to blossom in the morning and had an excellent barrier trial at Happy Valley on Tuesday.
The way he hit the line when simply cruising home from Red Star over 1,400 metres yesterday suggested that there is still plenty of improvement to come.
He won by a virtually effortless three-quarters of a length and could develop into a seriously good racehorse by the end of the season. He was on the bit throughout and looked as if a step up to a mile would be within his compass.
Marcus' opening win on L'Enjoleur was not without incident as he quite clearly cost third-placed Joyful World the runner-up's spot when crossing him inside the final 200 metres.