Cruz's stable star hits straps for QEII
Sha Tin was a wet and deserted racecourse yesterday morning and it was left to Gold Cup winner Deauville to brighten up the routine trackwork session. Tony Cruz was one of only a handful of trainers around with many on their way back from Sydney and he had every reason to be pleased with the latest effort of his stable star as Deauville prepares for the Queen Elizabeth II Cup. Cruz was delighted to get Deauville and he has done magnificently with the horse. Deauville's effort in winning the Gold Cup at only the gelding's second start for his new trainer did more than anything to underline the huge success Cruz has had since switching racing trades. Eric Saint-Martin, who rode Deauville perfectly in the Gold Cup and played a significant part in the victory, was aboard yesterday in what was a first-rate gallop. Despite his very real exertions in the Gold Cup, Deauville appears to have come out of the race in tip-top condition.
One hesitates to say that he has actually improved, but his work yesterday was certainly as good as we saw prior to his Gold Cup success. The Sha Tin dirt track is an excellent work track, but it can get a little sloppy when there are sudden downpours and the course was subjected to that yesterday. It was worse later in the session, but Deauville did not strike the usually faultless track that is prepared daily which also underlined just how well he actually went for the Frenchman. Deauville was clocked in 1:20.7 and there were plenty of eyes on him as he swung through his final quarter in a most pleasing 24.9. He finished the gallop looking ready for more and is going to be a real weapon in the home challenge for the QEII Cup. There was also good work from another Class One performer in the David Oughton-trained Fortissimo who has regularly featured in trackwork columns this season.
He has also landed in the winner's circle which suggests this is one horse whose efforts in the morning can be translated fairly regularly into worthwhile racing. Win Chung was aboard and Fortissimo looked completely at ease with himself in a solid gallop timed in 1:20.6 with the last quarter in a fluent 25.8. Most horses travel well for girl claimer Chung and tend to give that bit extra, but Fortissimo does look ready for future action. Back to tonight's Grand National meeting and the likely favourite in the third event, topweight Fireball. He wound up his preparation with a brisk tune-up under race rider Alex K. S. Yu who is coming in for quite a lot of rides from trainer Wong Tang-ping since his indentures were switched. Fireball has been the centre of some attention for several weeks as he strikes the weakest field he has faced in some time.
Apart from his work, Fireball has also trialled well and it was easy to see in this final hit-out that he is ready to give a real account of himself tonight. He is one to be on. Griffin Roaring Star impressed in a grass trial on Tuesday and continued the good work yesterday morning, again with young Yu in the saddle. Trainer Wong is setting this one up and he went very well for a relatively inexperienced galloper. With Yu letting him run along, Roaring Star was clocked in 1:20.6 and it was a solid piece of work. The last quarter was timed in 24.5 and his work yesterday allied to Tuesday's trial should mean Roaring Star is solidly in the market when produced. He could also take some beating.
There was only one trial on the dirt track and it went to noted speedster Pakistan Hero who had most of them stretched out for the best part of a furlong and a half. Pakistan Hero made all, but there were good efforts from Win Label and Another Patrol who finished second and third respectively. Both are from the David Hill stable and could be doing something useful shortly.
SHA TIN DIRT TRIAL 1,150 metres: 1, PAKISTAN HERO (E. Legrix); 2, Win Label (M. C. Poon); 3, Another Patrol (P. Robinson). Others (in finishing order): Cricket Lord, Rich In Faith, Super Goal, Expertise, Wind Catcher. Time: 1:12.5 (26.2). Distances: 11/4 lengths, 13/4 lengths. Winner trained by Li Lap-sai.