Charming Dragon fired up
A quiet spell for hard-working Robbie Fradd ended last week when Bullish obliged and he could land the Lusitano Challenge Cup on tonight's card on the all-weather track at Sha Tin.
South African Fradd will partner course-and-distance winner Charming Dragon and on the dirt it is best to follow horses that are proven on it.
While the Jockey Club has numerous trophy races to fit into the calendar, it is a matter of regret that the long-established Lusitano Cup is reduced to a Class Three scamper on the dirt.
The Lusitano Cup recognises the considerable influence of the Portuguese community on Hong Kong racing across the decades. That, of course, has waned with the departure of so many Portuguese to the four corners of the world but it is still a handsome trophy and arguably more meaningful than some that have appeared on the calendar.
That said, it all comes down to finding a winner and the likely sparse crowd on course tonight will not be too concerned about history.
Charming Dragon's credentials pass muster in that he won course and distance last time out in a good time and by a convincing margin.
He has gone up eight points in the ratings but strikes a similar field and Charming Dragon has been specifically set for a repeat dirt success.
Last time out Charming Dragon easily accounted for Strong Win and Duet Danseurs in a sharply run race and that is good form.
Earlier in the season he was well beaten, course and distance, by Flowers Treasure but that one is a freak on the surface and his four and a quarter length defeat should not be too harshly judged.
He safely accounted for Strong Win and a couple of other reasonable performers.
There is a lack of tried and tested all-weather winners in the race which suggests Charming Dragon is a solid banker for at least quinella and tierce bets - as well as for the second leg of the TT.
Trainer Ricky P. F. Yiu has kept the horse to what he does best and the single-minded approach should pay dividends.
Belarus, plagued by several problems over the past two seasons, is an interesting runner.
He was dropped into Class Three after his last run down the straight 1,000 metres at Sha Tin which, ironically, was his best effort in some time.
He was six lengths adrift of Flying Tiger and that was a lot better than the huge margins by which he had been thumped in previous starts this season.
Trainer Wong Tang-ping replaces the pacifiers and on his best dirt form, Belarus would give this a shake.
Topweight Hong Kong Supreme also has credentials on the dirt but will be handled again by inexperienced female claimer Carole Y. S. Yu for trainer Patrick Biancone.
The horse has the ability, speed and form to be a major factor but the engagement of the claimer cannot add confidence. If the horse is at good odds then a chance is worth taking as far as a quinella or tierce bet is concerned.
One to watch for could be bottomweight Patrician, trained by Geoff Lane and ridden by claimer Eddie W. M. Lai.
The horse has shown good recent form with a second placing over the minimum trip at Sha Tin. Well drawn in barrier three - if it is not bogged down on the inside - Patrician may have the attributes necessary to be a factor on the dirt although his previous effort on it was not spectacular.
Green Supreme, from the stable of Eddie K. C. Lo, merits some consideration and was seen to good advantage two starts back over 1,000 metres. He has placed on the dirt and is in fair form.
Hornet and Sunrisespectacular look best of the remainder.