Oscars a star attraction
The Oscars can take centre stage on his Hong Kong racing debut and win the featured St George's Challenge Cup at Happy Valley tonight.
It can be decidedly tricky taking a Hong Kong debutant to the city track and the lights and bustle of a busy midweek meeting, but trainer Gary Ng Ting-keung has certainly done plenty of preparatory work.
He wound that up by taking the Australian import to Happy Valley last week for trials and the gelding acquitted himself extremely well. The Oscars has frequently been mentioned in glowing terms in trackwork reports and there is not the slightest doubt that he has been meticulously prepared for a good first-up tilt.
Ng's move in taking him to Happy Valley last week may well pay dividends as the horse, who was an experienced galloper overseas, showed no signs of being disinclined to race on the tighter track. He cornered well and ran a solid trial without being pushed right out.
On his overseas form, The Oscars would merit close consideration even were it not for the obvious quality of his morning work and trials.
He ran nine times for two wins, two seconds and was out of the frame just once which is fair testimony to his consistency.
The Oscars was confined to sprints and, significantly, his last run in a Listed Race at Randwick last October produced a third placing, beaten a length and a half which is reasonable form for what looks to be a rather moderate Class Two field tonight.
His two-year-old campaign saw him unplaced in a Group Three event at Newcastle which was a lead-up race to the Golden Slipper but The Oscars, after a lengthy break, came back to win a 1,000-metre event at Hawkesbury. The track there is reasonably tight and, of course, right-handed so he is unlikely to be too uncomfortable at the Valley tonight.
He also ran third at Rosehill in a quality three-year-old contest over 1,200 metres so The Oscars' form is very solid. Ng and connections of the horse have struck lucky in that tonight's Cup event really is a modest contest by Class Two standards.
There are some in it who would appreciate more ground and others who are simply out of form plus a couple who seem patently not good enough.
Two that do come into the reckoning would be top-weight Pasha and the Wendyll Woods-ridden Noble Dancer.
The Lawrie Fownes-trained Noble Dancer will be many punters' idea of the winner judged by his good third placing on March 31 to Magic Joy at Sha Tin over 1,400 metres.
The David Hayes-trained Beas Glory, who is well regarded, split the quinella but the margins were a short head and a head which speaks eloquently for the efforts of Noble Dancer.
Few Fownes' horses these days can be discarded and Noble Dancer has been working solidly and also has Valley form. He is simply impossible to overlook for quinella and tierce bets.
The Ivan Allan-trained Pasha has mixed form, but this is slightly easier and he could be involved. His best efforts have tended to be at Sha Tin but with champion jockey Basil Marcus up, he should certainly be involved around this track.
Last time he finished just over five lengths off Kowloon Pride in the L'Or de Martell Cup and that was a much tougher race than this.
Duet Danseurs has been well used recently and Encore is returning after a long break, suggesting he will need the run. He is another who has won his best races at Sha Tin.
Super Fit is totally unpredictable, but may be worth including if only because he is trained by Tony Cruz and ridden by Douglas Whyte.
Buddy just seems to have lost it, but Guts has been in better form of late and is worth consideration as his recent work has also been worthwhile.
Leprechaun is capable and has also been working solidly suggesting that something is expected, but there is not a lot to be said at the moment for On Diamond Hill and Vintage.
Although he has not drawn particularly well at the notoriously tricky 1,200-metre start, it is definitely worth taking a chance with The Oscars. He is officially a Class One horse, which underlines his overseas form, and is racing in a modest Class Two race. It does add up to a worthwhile wager.