Begg import displays that winning look
WINNING Partners warmed up for his weekend engagement with a sterling piece of work at Sha Tin yesterday morning.
Neville Begg has shown remarkable patience to get this lightly-raced Australian import to the track and displaying the kind of ability that those in the know in Sydney said he possessed before he came to the territory.
Winning Partners was lightly raced in Australia, winning a minor event by five lengths.
On the strength of that very modest form he was duly handicapped into Class Three.
He looked betting material from the moment he stepped out on the work tracks last season but things had already started to go wrong.
Firstly, he endured an eight-hour operation for a twisted bowel after complications set in during a more routine gelding operation.
He then contracted the virus and if that was not enough, he suffered a broken nose in a mystery accident in the stables.
Each time his meticulous preparation by Begg was undone and the trainer had to begin again.
For every week lost in a horse's preparation, it may take three or four weeks to get him back to the same level of fitness. This is particularly the case in Hongkong where horses are trained on the level on an artificial surface.
Trainers cannot really put enough fast work into them for fear of injuring their legs.
Against this background, it was a tremendous training effort for Begg to get Winning Partners back in such terrific form for his debut victory down the straight 1,000-metre course where he won by the best part of five lengths.
Winning Partners has thrived since then and it is impossible to tell that he had not raced for 15 months prior to that sprint win.
Yesterday, he came home in an exhilarating one minute 15.6 in his 1,200-metre trial. He looked really impressive as he hit the line in 49.1 seconds for his final 800 metres and appears to have trained on well since his win.
He faces much tougher opposition on Sunday and is much higher in the ratings, too.
But the way he shapes he could be a smart individual, more than up to winning in Class Two.
Such have been the trials and tribulations that have beset Begg over the last season and a half, no one would begrudge him a decent horse or two.
By normal Thursday morning standards, yesterday was a quiet session at the track, explained by the fact that this weekend's meeting is on Sunday.
The vast majority of horses will gallop this morning with trainers preferring to leave one day's rest rather than two before the final gallop and the race.
Strangely, much of the fast work seemed to be confined to Winning Partners' event where he looks as if he will be tested by Chris Cheung Ting-pong's Red Star who has been given plenty of gallops.
He is only a Class Three horse but following those taking a voluntary promotion has so often proved to be a profitable system.
Red Star came home in a pleasing 23.7 seconds yesterday under John Marshall and continues on the upgrade.
Nigel Tiley produced a solid piece of work from Octagon Star who remains quinella material.
But he may struggle to win having been weighted up to the hilt for beating a modest bunch of Class Three horses earlier in the campaign.