Fownes' Grandstand one to keep in mind
Jockey Wendyll Woods and retaining trainer Lawrie Fownes will be inactive on Gold Cup day at Sha Tin, but they were busy at Sha Tin yesterday morning. It was little wonder Woods was ready for a breather during the running of the two trials before returning to work a final three for the morning. But it should all be worthwhile for a stable that has been in cracking form for some time. Woods was aboard interesting newcomer Grandstand who is worth keeping an eye on during his early starts judging by the manner in which he slipped along yesterday. Grandstand cut out a more than reasonable time in a gallop that did not seem to floor him with the clock stopping at 1:23.7, which suggests he moved even faster than it seemed to those not glued to stopwatches. The final quarter was given at 25.3 and Grandstand had a healthy blowout. Future efforts will surely be clocked with interest.
Chiu Chow Warrior is down to contest a Class Three mile event at the Valley in midweek and looked on terms with himself when Woods sent him along in a solid hitout. Chiu Chow Warrior answered up and he is one of a number of horses in the Fownes' yard capable of contributing to the overall win tally before the curtain falls in June. He was clocked in 1:24.5 (25.3) and it was a pleasing effort. If he accepts on Wednesday he might not be too far away. Griffin Smart Dancer may well live up to the first part of his name in time and worked keenly for Woods in a sharp run-up which suggested he has what it takes to be successful in juvenile company at least. Irish import Supreme Bases ran a good race over a trip that is not his best on his Hong Kong debut and seems to have taken no harm from that effort. He is down to contest the Manawatu Racing Club Challenge Trophy at Happy Valley on Wednesday and should be in good shape for it if trainer David Hill decides to send him to the city track.
He fairly sizzled for Philip Robinson in a very fast piece of work yesterday morning which saw him really flash home in 23.2. And Supreme Bases did it looking very comfortable, suggesting he could be ready to strike over a trip that suits. He clocked 1:19.5 which was among the morning's fastest but, as ever, it was the manner in which it was accomplished that mattered. The obvious worry if he runs on Wednesday will be the much tighter Valley track as Supreme Basis is no light-framed individual. There were two trials over 1,150 metres on the dirt with the second the more interesting of the two. There were a number of this year's newcomers involved and the effort of the Tony Cruz-trained Blue Era in finishing second to the established performer, Assegai, was worthwhile.
He led them until into the straight, having shifted off at the turn, but faded slightly close home. This allowed the tenderly ridden Assegai, under Win L. F. Chung, to slide through and win by three parts of a length. The winner did everything right, too. Sing Che Lover finished a fair third but the most important factor for connections was that he was passed officially to race. He has had a number of attempts in trying to get through an official trial. Fairview Star, out wide and not ridden out, ran a reasonable fourth although his form is well exposed. District Relative has had many problems - and trainers - in his Hong Kong career but if Cruz can keep him going there is a race in him. He won the first trial from Sunshine Dancer who looks a nice type in the care of Wylie Wong. Billion Delight, under Alan Munro and trained by Alex Wong Siu-tan, should improve with this outing and has ability.
SHA TIN DIRT TRIALS First trial _ 1,150 metres: 1, DISTRICT RELATIVE (P. H. Tse); 2, Sunshine Dancer (P. Strydom); 3, Fighting Spirit (K. M. Chin). Others: Billion Delight, Dongguan Star, Strike Out, Cambridge Success, Quick Speed. Time: 1:12.3 (25.0). Distances: 1 length, 3/4 length. Winner trained by Tony Cruz.
Second trial _ 1,150 metres: 1, ASSEGAI (L. F. Chung); 2, Blue Era (P. H. Tse); 3, Sing Che Lover (K. M. Chin). Others: Fairview Star, Pretty Baby, The Conqueror, Bird In Hand, Best Eagle, New Source. Time: 1:14.3 (26.5). Distances: 3/4 length, 11/2 lengths. Winner trained by David Oughton.