Hill in buoyant mood
Dashing Debonair can give the new season combination of trainer David Hill and jockey Felix Coetzee their second winner of the campaign in an interesting fourth event at Happy Valley tonight.
Racing returns to the popular city track with several good events programmed but this Class Two dash over 1,000 metres should turn into a fine scamper with Debonair possibly the one to hold the edge.
A training setback saw him make a belated debut last season and Hill reflected yesterday that his training programme may have been a bit taxing on the speedster.
'I think I may have pushed him a bit hard because he was very late into action last season. But he is certainly much more himself this time around and I am pleased with the way he has gone so far,' said Hill.
The former champion trainer was particularly pleased with a recent trial in which Debonair definitely impressed most observers.
'Yes, it was a good trial, no ifs and buts about it. Actually, it was the most encouraging feature of his preparation for his debut and gives me a bit of confidence,' added Hill.
But the trainer was not so pleased about the barrier draw which sees the sprinter out in barrier nine - although it could have been worse.
Ivan Allan's Classic Jester, no slouch around the Valley either, is drawn even wider in barrier 11 with Douglas Whyte up.
'It is not normally a draw from which you would expect to win a 1,000-metre dash at the Valley and it is a concern, there's no doubt about that. But it is slightly inferior company to what he has usually been racing in so that is in his favour,' said Hill.
In fact, Class Two opposition could be the clincher as far as success for Debonair is concerned.
The horse's blazing speed, particularly around the Valley turns, has invariably seen him tackling some of the best races and he has some noteworthy successes to his name over the past few years.
He is extremely quick out of the barriers and does not lack heart, either.
Although far from ideally drawn, Coetzee will be expected to bounce out and his sheer pace should see him lead. He will not want to be tackled and even if Classic Jester was on his outside the odds would still be with Debonair to see the job through.
More interesting is the fact that Happy Monies - at his best a quality performer over the short Valley sprint - is drawn on the inside with Glen Boss aboard.
Happy Monies has gone well for trainer John Moore and does look to be a potent threat.
The obvious scenario could be Happy Monies getting cleanly away and if Debonair's speed gets him over and to the front, the Moore-trained sprinter will be tucked in behind without having had to spend a penny.
It is really difficult to see any of those at the bottom of the handicap matching it with Debonair over this trip. The eight-year-old has a superb record overall and this is the weakest field he has struck in years.
Happy Boy, prepared by champion trainer David Hayes and ridden by Basil Marcus, has worked most pleasingly and is worth considering for a quinella or, probably better, a tierce wager.
Frequently races of this type can be set up for something to fly home from off the pace.
However, the genuine sprinting ability of Debonair and at least two others in the field simply suggest they would have flown before anything could get to them in the concluding stages.
Debonair is taken to win from Happy Monies who should keep him honest.