Trainers warn stars face tough challenge

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 October, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 October, 1996, 12:00am

There is a feast of racing at Sha Tin tomorrow with Horse of the Year Mr Vitality making his reappearance and the potentially brilliant Benji opening his campaign. But champion trainer Ivan Allan and the multiple Group One-winning handler Patrick Biancone were at pains last night to warn the betting public not to consider them as certainties. Speaking from England, Allan said: 'Mr Vitality is fit and well and I hope and expect him to run a good race. But he has gone up a long way in the ratings for winning races at level weights and this will be a lot harder for him. It is the first time he's been in handicap company since winning his first race in the territory.

'My advice to punters is to watch and enjoy the race rather than to get too involved with him as a betting proposition.' Asked why he was running under handicap conditions, Allan said: 'Because it would be too hard on him to run first time out in the Stewards' Cup and it could take too much out of him afterwards.' Allan arrives back in the territory today after a buying mission to England and Ireland. He purchased a son of Marju for GBP120,000 as well as colts by Marju, Tirol and Danehill in private deals.

'Generally the prices went through the roof for a good horse,' he said.

Allan does not have specific owners for the yearlings yet and is just waiting to see 'who wants what'. Meanwhile, the top New Zealand rider Larry Cassidy yesterday wasted no time in lodging his notice of appeal against a 12-meeting ban imposed for not taking all reasonable and permissible measures to ensure that Jacko obtained the best possible placing at Sha Tin last Sunday night. There has been no appeal against the month ban imposed on the horse. Cassidy was disappointed to hear of the ban on the horse as he felt if Jacko ran he would run badly again and this would vindicate him.

Director of racing Philip Johnston yesterday said Cassidy's suspension was to do with his riding of the horse during the race in question, not to do with how that horse might or might not run in future.