Stay on Bicycle for quick return
BICYCLE is a totally different horse these days and should be backed accordingly in tonight's fifth event at Happy Valley. The transformation has come about since the five-year-old joined first-season training sensation Ricky Yiu who has improved just about every horse that has joined him, irrespective of their origin.
Bicycle has run five times since moving to Yiu, winning twice, running second once and third twice. Last time out he put in the most dominant display of all when scoring by a neck from Sharp Racer over the Happy Valley mile on the night that Yiu trained his first treble. Bicycle did well to win that evening, not because he travelled wide as it was an evening where there was a bias towards the outside, but because the mile trip is some way short of Bicycle's best.
This evening's 2,200-metre distance is much more to his liking and he can be guaranteed to be running home strongly when a number of his rivals are crying enough. The brilliant French rider Eric Legrix was in the saddle for Bicycle's most recent success, but he has to sit and watch tonight due to a five-meeting careless riding ban. Not to worry as that man Basil Marcus is the new choice to do the pedalling and Marcus is riding in inspired form as his victory on Success Partners underlined in Saturday's feature Pearce Memorial Challenge Cup.
Legrix is all about balance and hands, Marcus is the man who regularly snatches victory from the jaws of defeat. In their own ways they are both superb jockeys to have on your side. On your Bicycle even. Since his defeat of Sharp Racer it is tempting to suggest that Bicycle has gone even better.
His work on Monday morning was really fluent. He did not run any particularly sparkling time, he just looked a very well and happy horse but then even before he had dropped down into Class Six he had shown promise in the season immediately following his griffin year when campaigned in Class Four. The way Bicycle is going, that is where he is likely to end up again and he is a confident selection to win tonight's Classes Five and Six contest on the way.
Get on your Bicycle. It is hard to point to one main quinella as looking down the card, A Fortune, Good Dividend, Pleasant Surprise and Follow Me must all be respected through the quinella pool. A Fortune stays all day and is probably the main danger despite his steadier of 140 pounds. He has bounced right back to form and is weighted to reverse recent form over tonight's course and distance with Pleasant Surprise. There was three-quarters of a length between them just under a month ago when A Fortune ran third to Pleasant Surprise, conceding 23 pounds.
Tonight, A Fortune is handicapped to concede 16 pounds so he has a seven-pound weight swing with Pleasant Surprise, who has gone on with it since, and that should be sufficient to see him reverse the form.
What's more, A Fortune raced wide without cover when third to Pleasant Surprise and might well have prevailed without such a tough run through. Good Dividend has come right back to himself over the last month and has to be respected from towards the bottom of the handicap scale. He handles a rain-affected track and also goes well at the Valley.
Then there is Follow Me who is bred to stay all day and races that way. He has been much improved in his last few runs and finished to good effect when third to Today's Special and Po On King over an inadequate 1,400 metres as recently as last Saturday. The final event has an almost impenetrable look about it, but with Lawrie Fownes' team in good form and the top Australian jockey Damien Oliver now banging home the winners, it could pay to side with Conticasta.
The veteran is not the force he was, but has already run well at the Valley this season and he simply loves the tight city track. He is also very adept in the wet and his final couple of pieces of work suggest that he retains enough ability to go close at reasonable odds.