The Privilege is all Allan's
RESOLUTE stayer Privilege gallops his rivals relentlessly into the ground and he will be favoured at Sha Tin today to take one of the glamour end-of-season races, the Champions and Chater Cup. It should mean another handy winner for trainer Ivan Allan who goes into the meeting two winners clear of Patrick Biancone in their intense battle for the championship. The French ace is represented by Deauville, but over 2,400 metres and with a distinct edge in experience, Privilege should prove too strong.
Privilege ran a bold race in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at his last start when third to brilliant winner Overbury which gives him a solid line in to European Group Three company. That is not to be sniffed at.
However, it was the tragedy which hit the QEII Cup race which ultimately could have most bearing on today's race. Champion trainer John Moore had stable star Makarpura Star aimed for the Champions and Chater, but the New Zealand import collapsed and was put down on the track. It was a sad blow to local racing as Makarpura Star was the reigning Horse of the Year and had already beaten Privilege. His demise has robbed local racing of a quality stayer and this race today of considerable prestige. Privilege and regular rider Basil Marcus could scarcely have asked for better luck at the barrier draw as they will jump from right against the rails. As Privilege likes to get to the front and keep on going, that is the ideal place to be. Privilege is a quality performer and his relentless galloping in front has virtually broken the hearts of a number of those behind him in the past.
He has frequently come under pressure, but keeps finding more - making him one of trainer Allan's stable favourites. 'He's a superb horse to have in your stable. He is a real fighter and if you had a stable full of horses like him you would never have a worry,' he enthuses. It is difficult to look past Privilege's last excellent effort when assessing today's eight-runner event. He had both stablemate Sterling Town and today's chief rival, Survey King, behind him in the QEII Cup and, on that bare form, the latter has plenty to do.
Privilege gave a glorious sight in the 2,200-metre international event, battling on in front and leading them into the straight before Overbury, under an exuberant Frankie Dettori, took it up and went on to win convincingly from the New Zealand challenger Sapio, who came with a bit reputation. To finish in the frame behind those two really does speak volumes for the ability and fighting spirit of Privilege whose trainer wisely elected to send him straight for today's Champions and Chater Cup after the QEII Cup effort. Privilege, as he usually does, has worked along like a horse who enjoys what he is doing and he will strip for this showdown in top physical condition.
Survey King has beaten Privilege this season, but he will have a hard time confirming that form today. Not only does Privilege look in the best shape he's yet been in, but Survey King does not seem to be holding his form as convincingly.
Trainer Lawrie Fownes has had an excellent second half to the season and his runners are in tip-top form. He starts Rajput who finally repaid his trainer's faith with a grand win last time out at the Valley when he had Survey King and Sterling Town behind him. Also wallowing in his wake was stablemate Cricket Lord. Rajput had looked an unlucky horse in a couple of earlier runs and we were almost certainly seeing his real form at the Valley. But today is unquestionably his big test. Top Australian rider Damien Oliver retains the ride after the Valley success and he would certainly hit the headlines if he won the Champions and Chater.
By the way in which he came through and won last time, suggests that today's 2,400-metre trip will not be against him. Deauville may have needed the run last time when he was resuming after a break. He finished a disappointing fourth to Success Partners over 1,800 metres and may not find this any easier. Able Shot was nowhere last time out in Success Partners' Pearce Memorial Cup, and his overall form this season has been moderate suggesting he has it all to do today. Lik Rambo has only had two Hong Kong starts, making his debut in the Derby. Last time out, over 1,400 metres, he was the medium of some support and attempted to make all but was caught. As he is by Storm Bird out of a staying dam, Lik Rambo would be expected to get distance. But today's race should still be beyond him - at this time.