On the double for punters
Prices ma be on the short side but a double on progressive Fireball and one-time Melbourne Cup aspirant Deauville could end the night at Sha Tin on the right note. Trainer Wong Tang-ping put a heap of work into Fireball before his first-up run when he won commandingly in the end for South African ace, Douglas Whyte. But there were momentary concerns during the run when Whyte had to pull the stick before Fireball really picked it up. That was down entirely to the 1,600-metre trip which was a little on the short side and Fireball did not get going until he saw daylight towards the top of the straight and then moved into another gear. The seventh event tonight presents a great opportunity for Fireball to make it two-on-end as he is going over 1,900 metres in Class Three. That represents a priceless step up in distance allied to a not-so-joyful rise in grade. But few who watched Fireball dominate the field last time would harbour too many qualms about him matching up to this grade and he is a confident tip.
This is a local riders' race and gives Vickie C. W. Choi a chance to bow out on a winning note. Choi copped a nine-day suspension on Wednesday night for not taking all permissible measures to ensure a best possible placing a week ago for Super Fellow. Choi blossomed last season and rode some excellent races for his former master, Wong Tang-ping. The long-serving local mentor has stuck by Choi and Fireball certainly represents a top ride. If the present inclement weather continues mud-loving Twin Dragons will come solidly into the picture. He is a different horse with the rain around and he flew from last on the turn to be a short-head third to Nervous Witness in a titanic finish to a mile race at rain-lashed Sha Tin last week. He was racing out of his class last time and comes into this Class Three event with a fair weight, taking into account the claim of excellent apprentice Martin C. K. Tsang.
On The Beat, who did not really flatter in a debut run at the Valley, could go better. Deauville is being aimed at bigger things but the Classes One and Two final event over 1,600 metres looks an ideal option for his seasonal debut. Deauville simply oozes class and is obviously a horse better suited to much longer than a mile. He is better over the Classic distance but, first-up, this looks just right. Deauville may be under the odds but should prevail and the race-to-race double seems the best way to extract a bit of value. There are a few interesting runners in this, not least the Ivan Allan-trained topweight Success Partners whose surge up the classes was one of the features of local racing last season.
He has been badly drawn in the extreme outside and the champion trainer has put apprentice Peter Y. S. Wong up. That will certainly lead to a longer price but Success Partners should still be included on class alone. Viva Icta could represent one of the very few chances to date that visiting rider Paul Eddery has to show his talents and he has scored resolutely over this trip in the past. But Viva Icta has had his problems and persistent reports centre on his legs. The English import, however, would be greatly aided by any give in the ground and that is clearly possible. Brian Kan Ping-chee's team are in great heart and there will be support for Super Goal whose overall form is very solid. Again, the 1,600-metre trip looks just right for him first-up and a forward showing would be no surprise.