French ace takes over on Oughton's promising English import

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 May, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 May, 1998, 12:00am

English import Commander Charlie looks a value bet on today's Sha Tin card as he seems poised to follow up on a highly encouraging Hong Kong debut.

Commander Charlie had useful English form when trained by Ian Balding and he was not overused which suggests he will have a solid local career - hopefully starting in this Classes One and Two, 1,400-metre event.

Commander Charlie made his first local appearance under girl claimer Win L. F. Chung in a similar contest won by stablemate, Chagall.

The three-year-old came home well but also struck some interference otherwise he might well have finished even closer than fifth.

He was less than three lengths from the winner.

Although some horses do run kindly for her, young Chung is not the strongest apprentice in town and was probably not the biggest help to the horse in the finish.

That will change today with French ace Eric Saint-Martin in the saddle.

Commander Charlie comes into a contest today which is not that strong and given his form on the track since his debut, has a second to none chance.

There is the possibility of the 'second-up' syndrome but he has been around for a while and his trackwork gives no indication that he is not going to carry on from where he left off.

Health First is awkwardly drawn in barrier 13 but he does have pace and Douglas Whyte could get him over and into a prominent position.

There has been plenty of rain around with the likelihood of a softer track and that would not go against the Tony Cruz-trained galloper.

If they are coming from behind, one to note could be bottomweight Qui Vivra Verra who is a stablemate of the selection.

He seems to be coming back to form and, if the track has deteriorated by the time the eighth event comes around and suits horses coming from behind, this is one to note.

SAR Tourism, blinkered for the first time, may well appreciate the step up to 1,400 metres and should be kept safe in all bets.

In the final event, the very promising Colourful Era can return to the winner's circle following a last start defeat over the 1,400-metre trip by Monza.

The winner has solid form both here and overseas so there was no disgrace in that defeat and Colourful Era could well have the advantage on this field.

He has had a fairly strenuous campaign but does seem to have at least one more good race left in him this season - and this should be it.

Newcomer Astimonti is an interesting runner and could be seen to advantage while Pasha might well swoop through to make it a good finish.