Oughton has the look of a winner
DAVID Oughton and Declan Murphy can get back among the winners by taking the second event at Happy Valley's equitrack meeting tonight courtesy of Diamond Treasure.
Oughton and Murphy are a rare combination. They have been thrown together by the suspension of stable rider Mick Kinane. Coincidently, one of the few times they have teamed up in the past was when Murphy rode Diamond Treasure last season so he knows the four-year-old well.
Diamond Treasure stamped himself as an above average griffin last season when running well on his debut to be 11/2 lengths third of 14 to King Prawn in a race run in record time for a griffin down the straight 1,000 metres.
That day the winner clocked a scintillating 57.8 seconds which was fully 0.9 of a second - or the best part of six lengths - faster than Lucky Century won over the same course and distance in the previous race.
So the clock augured well for Diamond Treasure's potential and so has the form book since.
Diamond Treasure finished upsides Champman River that day and the latter has won twice this season in the style of a progressive sort.
King Prawn has also made great strides, winning two of his four outings.
The first three drew well clear of their rivals in that dash down the straight and that is always a sign of good form.
Diamond Treasure made a belated reappearance this season and exceeded expectations with a short head defeat of Smile For Me, again down the straight.
He had earlier worked exceptionally well only to be set back by a pricked foot and then the virus and had done very little work coming into the race. Indeed, a paddock inspection revealed he would come on considerably for the run.
Since then Diamond Treasure has been responsible for some pleasing work round the inside track, his efforts picking up noticeably in the last two weeks. He impressed in his final piece from the barriers on Monday when working fluently, kept under a tight hold by assistant trainer Andy Leung who is a very shrewd man on the gallops.
In an uncompetitive event the biggest danger to Diamond Treasure may be the track. He is encountering equitrack for the first time and won't have much of an opportunity to find his feet in this 1,030-metre event.
In his favour he has jockey Murphy's undoubted ability to get them out and get them running.
Many of Diamond Treasure's opponents are out of form. For the quinella it may pay to stick with Phantasy Way who has been a model of consistency this season.
The Sure Thing could run home for third. He ran creditably last time behind Eastern Saga and holds Longain on that form.
Hammerhead has been out of sorts while Gints To Win appeared not to act round the Valley when racing on the grass.
The Class Five handicap round the 1,030-metre sprint course could fall to Tony P. H. Chan's River Treasure. The five-year-old's trackwork indicates that he has been trained for this race and his early season success from New Champ gives him a solid form chance. Shun Wah Treasure and the improving Viva St Paul's could provide most danger.
Once again, champion jockey elect Tony Cruz has a great book of rides. He should go close in the opener on Wong Tang-ping's Lucky Champ who has improved significantly in his work going into this race.
He is far more settled than earlier in the season, trailled well last Friday and is a course and distance winner.
But Oughton's Third Time Lucky held him in the trial and may come out on top. Along with Picador, they look a solid tierce combination.
Ping's Win Tack looks banker material for Jackie C. K. Tse in the third. They simply bolted home last time out and the move up to 2,000 metres should suit Win Tack.