Stand up for Ovation
Multiple champion jockey Basil Marcus can steal a further winner clear of arch-rival, the demon Douglas Whyte, by scoring on Ovation in the opening event on this evening's Happy Valley card.
Marcus is pulling out all the stops to keep Whyte at bay as Danny Nikolic found out in no uncertain terms when the two of them, riding Cavalo and Your Turn, clashed repeatedly down the back straight in the fifth at Sha Tin on Sunday. Marcus is one hell of a tough cookie. During a race he asks for nothing and he gives less.
The Australian Nikolic would be used to the hard school of riding but Marcus is as hard as they come.
He also makes no secret of his burning desire to retain the jockeys' crown he has already won five times.
Against this background he's particularly good to have on your side at this time of the season. Year after year he has raised his game and once came from out of the clouds to catch the legendary Tony Cruz and, in the end, win the title going away.
Ironically, having waxed lyrical about Marcus' end-of-season prowess, it was a rare error which saw him and Ovation beaten two short-heads by Plentiful Harvest and Super Star over tonight's journey last time out.
Marcus dropped a rein some 100 metres from the line, momentarily lost his balance, and Ovation probably lost slightly more ground than that by which he was beaten.
It even happens to champions like Marcus but what sets him apart is that he is likely to raise his game because of the mistake, to make sure he wins this time round, rather than to dwell on the error and let it affect his game.
Ovation had previously run a highly creditable second to the impressive Universal Winner, with the third many lengths behind, and looks extremely hard to beat.
Sound Lover may be the one for the quinella. He made good late ground over an inadequate 1,000 metres last time and is very effective over the Valley's 1,200 metres.
They invariably go very hard at this trip, racing from trap to line, which allows an habitually slow starter like Sound Lover to come right into it over the closing stages.
Splendid Timing has run well all season for the promising apprentice Vincent Sit.
Hero's Choice didn't appear to handle the Valley on his debut at the track two starts ago. He then raced well in the worst ground last time and now he's had a run at the Valley could go much better.
And keep an eye on Dynamic Tension in running for when he's stepped up in distance.