Begg team set for a fitting farewell
VETERAN handler Neville Begg bows out at the end of the season and from the way his team shaped at yesterday morning's Sha Tin trackwork session he could well go out in a blaze of glory. Begg is first and foremost a horseman and despite this being his final campaign, he has put his horses future benefit and development a long way in front of his own personal gain. This much has been underlined by his training of the talented young milers, Top Practitioner and Show Ability. It must surely have been tempting to give them a hard preparation and get out of them what he could in this final last season. But that is not Begg's way. He is such a thorough professional that he has even finished Show Ability for the season knowing that his owner, who is understood to be sending him to David Oughton next season, has an exciting horse for the future.
Sure Show Ability may well have won another race or two this campaign but pressing ahead this season, while it would have been to Begg's own gain, was not the right thing to do by the horse. Similarly, Begg has given Top Practitioner all the time in the world to strengthen up and to start to come to himself. Yesterday was the first time he has asked him for a serious effort in the mornings when he galloped him through a testing 1,200 metres in one minute and 14.7 seconds under stable apprentice Keith Kwok. Top Practitioner went well alongside the brilliant worker Jubilation and should be spot on when next seen out. A move to a mile, plus this added fitness and the natural development that Begg has been at pains to harness, should see Top Practitioner put in a very competitive effort. Jubilation is another that Begg has ready to win.
He is set to race from the bottom of Class Four over 1,800 metres at Happy Valley next Wednesday night and trainers are forced, due to the limited amount of races available to them, to run their horses when they can.
An 1,800-metre Class Four event may be both a bit far and a bit too strong for Jubilation but he would become betting material should there be a Class Five contest around a mile before the end of the season. Begg is also one of the trainers who believes in breezing his horses through a snappy 400 metres on the day before their intended races. Yesterday he sent the improving Gainsborough's Boy through a final quarter in an attractive 23.7 seconds under Greg Childs and the Irish import should be closely considered as a quinella leg in this afternoon's eighth event. It is going to be very hard, impossible even, to beat the controversial Benji who looks set to make it all the way to Class One, providing his knees hold up. But Gainsborough's Boy should still be priced at around 8-1 or 10-1 in the quinella with Benji and he is approaching full fitness. The five-year-old is a robust type and has needed his three runs back from an enforced spell to reach peak condition.
Charming Dragon, now with Ricky Yiu having previously been trained by John Moore, took the morning's only trial by 21/2 lengths from My Bunny. Charming Dragon has always been a good worker so it is probably best not to read to much into this and wait for him to have another run before drawing any firm conclusions. Trial result _ 1,150 metres: 1, CHARMING DRAGON (K. C. Chan); 2, My Bunny (K. C. Tsang); 3, Light-Hearted (F. Johansson). Others (in finishing order): Middle East Win, Horse-Laugh, Charity First. Time: 1.11.6 (25.5). Distances: 21/2 lengths, 3/4 length. Winner trained by Ricky Yiu Poon-fai.