Robinson quick to impress at track
LAWRENCE WADEY Racing Editor
It wasn't like this in the old days - Philip Robinson winning a barrier trial! The former dual champion jockey was at the track yesterday for the first time since teaming up with David Hill and immediately took the first of five trials on the new dirt surface.
Robinson scored an all-the-way win on Hill's useful sprinter Top-Worth who was confirming earlier trackwork impressions that he is in fine order.
The partnership was not unduly troubled in getting to the front though it did look as if Top-Worth tired just a touch over the last 50 metres.
That said, the blowout will have brought him on and he shouldn't be far away in the early meetings. He certainly appears to be going every bit as well as last season.
Generally, Wong Tang-ping's batch of eight triallists went well. Chop-Chop, his unbeaten griffin from last season, kept on pleasingly to run three-quarters-of-a-length second to Top-Worth while Douglas Whyte, the talented South African jockey, never let Geoff Lane's Orlando Magic off the bit.
Wong's Red Jeans kept on strongly for second behind Basic Instinct in the second heat while it was Wong's reclassified griffin Fireball and his experienced low-grade stayer, Each Own Way, who impressed most in the fourth batch.
Fireball, by the useful American stallion Be My Chief out of a Grundy mare, has always looked a decent type.
Yesterday's effort was particularly commendable as he didn't look at all happy on the dirt.
He lacks a bit of earlier speed so he was always chasing and then seemed to get on the wrong leg or at least get unbalanced rounding the bottom bend. But Whyte sat still, eased him through his troubles and then asked him to lengthen in the straight.
Fireball responded in the manner of a horse who should win from his rating of 48 in Class Four once he is sent out over a mile or farther.
Whyte looks very much as if he will have no trouble matching an illustrious group of fellow South African jockeys to have ridden with distinction in the territory - Felix Coetzee, Bart Leisher, Basil Marcus and Pierre Strydom.
He rode another very sensible trial on Bruce Hutchison's Word From Rome in the fourth trial.
Word From Rome had begun to improve towards the end of last season and appears to have continued along the right lines.
Diamond Fortune made all to win this fourth heat but he looked very keen to get his trial over and done with so, despite having put on condition during the break, a watching brief is still advised.
When horses trial in this manner the suggestion is that they are still troubled by something.
They can make all in a trial but come raceday, with the extra pressure that is on during a race, they are often gobbled up by their opponents inside the final 200 metres.
Earlier, the Lawrie Fownes-trained Be A Friend caught the eye in his work with last season's decent griffin winner, Port Hope.
This appeared to be an improved effort compared to the way he went during last season.
Similarly, David Oughton's Celestial Might went pleasingly with Legitimate. Celestial Might started to improve late last season and seems to be continuing along the right lines.
Andy Leung has some decent unraced griffins from last season, not least Sunny Graham who went extremely well yesterday when dominating Green Maple.