Top Spy to lift tempo for Hayes
Top Spy can get David Hayes' title bid back on track by taking the opening event on an enthralling card at Sha Tin this afternoon.
The brilliant Benji being taken on by his stablemate Michael's Choice at set weights in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup is a mouth-watering prospect.
Both Benji and Michael's Choice come into this mile contest working in fantastic fashion and it is very hard to split them.
Eric Legrix's presence on Benji tends to suggest this one is the stable preferred but Michael's Choice could be allowed to start at far too big a price because of this and he could be the value.
Watch out for Master Eagle in this race as he could add value to the tierce.
But in terms of a decent bet, look no further than the opener and Hayes' Top Spy who showed such resolution to run the quinella on his debut when second to Kimber at Happy Valley.
Top Spy needed the run that night, both mentally and physically, and was no match for Kimber who looks a very smart griffin - one of the cream of the current crop.
The outing should have brought on Top Spy by a considerable margin and he has, indeed, looked good when working going into today's 1,200-metre contest.
But the thing which really caught the eye about him was how, despite having no luck at the treacherous 1,200-metre Happy Valley start and getting a fair way back in his field, he battled on and showed enormous resolution to get up and run the quinella.
The kind of attitude Top Spy showed on his debut is the kind of tenacious attitude which should see him win plenty of races. It's no good having raw ability if the will to win isn't there also, especially in these youngsters.
It won't be any cakewalk for Top Spy but then it rarely is in any race in the territory these days.
The griffin races used to be very 'thin' affairs but now such is the quality of the unraced types being bought to race here there are always a clutch of very promising sorts through which to sift.
The biggest danger to Top Spy could well come from the Wong Tang-ping-trained Sunrisespectacular who made up an enormous amount of ground on his only start to date when sent out down the straight 1,000-metre chute.
On that occasion he was ridden by Ping's former stable apprentice Vickie Choi and, having become worked up before the start, he was slowly into stride, and hung out towards the stands rail before flying home into fifth behind Brilliant Star and Fred.
He was beaten 2.5 lengths, but must have made up eight lengths in the final 300 metres.
John Moore's Gagne Ensemble has improved and is now very fit for this and must be respected while Ivan Allan's Billion Win, while far from fully wound up (as is Allan's wont with his youngsters), is a decent type and could run a good race on natural ability alone.