Claimer Lai has Monopoly on sprint

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 May, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 May, 1998, 12:00am

Monopoly Senior can run his rivals ragged in the third event on tonight's Sha Tin dirt card.

The Gary Ng Ting-keung-trained four-year-old is racing down a grade compared to his better recent effort when he finished four lengths third to Lion's Share and Splendid Timing in a fair Class Four contest.

A reproduction of that effort would surely be good enough to prevail in what appears to be only an ordinary Class Five sprint over the minimum dirt trip of 1,150 metres.

Strictly on form there should not be too much between Monopoly Senior and Woods Venture as the latter was only half a length adrift in fourth in the race won in sizzling fashion by the promising Lion's Share and is now two pounds better off.

But Monopoly Senior, who is blisteringly quick in the first half of his race, could well lead more easily against these more modest rivals and thus have that much more left at the business end of his race.

Eddie Lai, this season's leading apprentice, will be doubly keen on winning as he has a few meetings to kick clear of the talented Willy Kan during her suspension.

Lai, who is still claiming five pounds, knows Monopoly Senior very well and apprentices on front-running sprinters taking the voluntary demotion is one of the oldest and most valuable and reliable betting systems to follow here.

Such examples as Monopoly Senior don't crop up that often but when they do, they are worth following.

Woods Venture must still rate a real danger due to that proximity to Monopoly Senior two starts ago but it is Fighting Strike who is rated the most serious challenger to the selection.

Trainer Alex Wong Siu-tan is finishing the season in fair form, having scored recently with the likes of Tremendous Way and Giant Fight, and in Fighting Strike he has an attractively handicapped runner.

The veteran son of Straight Strike has been finding winning difficult but he can rattle home from off the pace and is again drawn to do so.

He jumps from barrier nine under English jockey Alan Munro who has been something of a quiet achiever this season.

Wong, his retainer, has been somewhat in the doldrums but Munro has still managed to put together a very healthy 25 winners.

Winning Man is better than his recent form suggests, having had plenty of excuses in running since bolting home in a Happy Valley sprint.

The fact that battling local trainer Eddie Lo has now called for champion jockey elect Basil Marcus indicates that he is fancied to run well by connections and is worth quinella and tierce respect.