Deerfield can rediscover form
By LAWRENCE WADEY
DEERFIELD looks to be coming right back to the kind of form which made him the great white hope of the private purchase griffins at the beginning of the season.
At Sha Tin yesterday he worked with regular rider Brent Thomson from the barrier down the back straight in a piece which gave further hope to his connections and to all those race fans who returned from the summer recess with such high hopes for the American-bred colt.
Those aspirations dissolved after two bouts of the virus severely affected his form and his only run to date was a rather tame affair when he could never get into the race behind the speedy Right Way in the Sha Tin Trophy back in early October.
The answer to that poor performance lay in the virus and Deerfield's work immediately after that run was even worse.
Trainer Alex Wong Yu-on then took immediate remedial action and rested Deerfield, not even attempting to bring him back for the Invitation Cup but setting his sights on the Derby.
That race has now been put back to March 7 and the way Deerfield has been working over the last fortnight or so suggests that he still has every chance of fulfilling those grand designs we all had for him after his remarkable five-length trouncing of seasoned opponents in last season's Sha Tin Vase.
Yesterday, Deerfield worked easily in Thomson's care down the back, notching a very fluent mid-section in 24.1 seconds.
The plan is clearly to give Deerfield as much of his strong work on the grass as possible for his appearances on the equitrack have tended to coincide with double rounds at little more than a canter.
For the record, he also worked very pleasingly on January 8, 14 and 19 - on the latter occasion really flying in a most impressive piece.
These good horses certainly set the pulse racing and there was also a quality piece from Alex Wong Siu-tan's useful young sprinter, Octagon Star yesterday morning.
Octagon Star still appears a little inexperienced in his work but it is hard to get away from the impression that he is improving and strengthening up.
Last time he found the jump in the ratings to the top of Class Two beyond him but the way he has been shaping up in the mornings suggests that he will prevail from that mark sooner rather than later.
There is always a grass gallop on the morning before each race meeting at Sha Tin. Yesterday it was the turn of Chris Cheung Ting-pong's stable to do the honours.
Cheung sent out Noble Regent and Dong Win, both of whom have needed their runs to date.
Noble Regent though is coming to himself and yesterday's solid hit-out in which he came home in 23.8 seconds for an overall time of one minute 15.6 for his 1,200-metre gallop, followed a similarly searching piece on Friday when he also went well.
Looking towards tomorrow's Happy Valley meeting, there was a pleasant piece from the barriers from Lam Hung-fie's Saint Dragon Hill who will take plenty of beating in the second race.
Great Time enjoyed a thorough pipe-opener under Declan Murphy in preparation for the Hongkong Golf Club Centenary Cup. Great Time was not given much assistance by his apprentice rider last time out.