Valley plan could compromise safety
Horse racing is a dangerous game.
And there are few who would doubt the bravery of jockeys asked to steer animals weighing in excess of 1,000 pounds around a tight circuit such as Happy Valley.
But if the Jockey Club proceeds with plans to race on the 'C+6' course used for yesterday morning's barrier trial session at the city track, then not only will bravery be brought into question, it might also be argued that stupidity will enter the equation.
It was patently obvious that the 'C+6' course is much too tight for competitive racing and will only increase the perils for the riders.
And the downside of it is that in order to protect an already tattered track, the safety of jockeys may not be a priority issue.
On the surface there did not seem to be any major problems with yesterday's trials, but the main point is that there is much more pressure on in races than is applied in a barrier trial.
Away from the controversy of whether the course will be used or not, there were several good performances.
And none more so than the David Oughton-trained Smart Kid, who made a good impression in the second heat.
Oughton took over the training of the gelding this season and he has been patiently brought along for a return to racing.
Alan Munro never asked the six-year-old a question at any stage but he travelled kindly in midfield and finished the trial off solidly.
Hong Kong Legend took this heat in a tight finish from Smartlord and Laser Star and Andy Leung has him wound up for a big run first-up.
Smartlord had been disappointing in a grass trial back in August, but John Moore seems to have overcome whatever was ailing him at that time and he strode to the line untouched for Basil Marcus.
Lawrie Fownes has had a brilliant start to the season and the form of his runners in the trials indicated the prospects of yet more success.
Prodigy hit the line strongly in this batch while the promising Dolbridge could not have been more impressive in the fourth heat.
True, it was not a strong field but Wendyll Woods had a lapful of horse under him and one dig would have seen him winning the trial.
Veloce took this heat and was given a solid hitout, running on strongly in the straight under riding.
The strapping five-year-old has only had three starts and looks capable of winning his way out of Class Five.
David Hayes now prepares Helene Honour and although he took out the third trial it was not an impressive effort.
He had to be hard ridden by Marcus to get there and both Wasabi and Che Sara Sara were much better performances.
Faithful Assurance also ran well and although finishing eighth, he was not too far from the winner.
Dick Ching took the penultimate trial while Speedstar prevailed narrowly in the final lot.
Seattle Sun, Broadway Hit and Star Of Architect all shaped promisingly in these heats.
HAPPY VALLEY TURF TRIALS First trial _ 1,650m: 1, COMPULSORY (K. M. Chin); 2, Outstanding Lad (F. Coetzee); 3, Full Throttle (S. King). Others (in finishing order): Toy Baron, Fortune Dancer, Guscott, Port Hope, Fantastic, Eastern Shine, Harmony Prince, Eternity. Time: 1:45.2 (26.2). Distances: .5 length, .75 length. Winner trained by Francis Lui Kin-wai.
Second trial _ 1,200m: 1, HONG KONG LEGEND (B. Doyle); 2, Smartlord (B. Marcus); 3, Hong Kong Supreme (E. Legrix). Others: Laser Star, Lucky Goal, Sky Dragon, Smart Kid, Prodigy, Electronic Zone, Pretty Baby, Brilliant Leader, On The Job. Time: 1:13.6 (26.5). Distances: head, neck. Winner trained by Andy Leung Ting-wah.
Third trial _ 1,000m: 1, HELENE HONOUR (B. Marcus); 2, Che Sara Sara (A. Munro); 3, Wasabi (S. King). Others: Markgraf, Kowloon Pride, Winning Scene, Forest Spring, City Patrol, Faithful Assurance, Yellow River. Time: 1:01.4 (24.4). Distances: neck, short head. Winner trained by David Hayes.
Fourth trial _ 1,000m: 1, VELOCE (K. S. Yu); 2, Lucky Afleet (K. M. Chin); 3, Action Plan (F. Coetzee). Others: Dolbridge, Dynamic Victory, Shaxi Treasure, Winning Smart, Horse Of Fame, Showtime, Flying Tiger, Barish. Time: 1:01.3 (26.2). Distances: 1 length, neck. Winner trained by Wong Tang-ping.
Fifth trial _ 1,000m: 1, DICK CHING (R. Fradd); 2, Simon's Decision (K. H. Ting); 3, Chagall (A. Munro). Others: Broadway Hit, A-Gain Easy, Bravado, First Honour, Clear Castle, The Rich Man, Transcendental, Antonhill Boom. Time: 1:01.7 (25.6). Distances: short head, head. Winner trained by Peter Ng Bik-kuen.
Sixth trial _ 1,000m: 1, SPEEDSTAR (Y. S. Wong); 2, Easy Way (C. W. Choi); 3, My Treasure (D. Whyte). Others: Multi-Pro, Star Of Architect, Word Of Honour, Eagle Supreme, Seattle Sun, Never Say No, Really Lucky, Brave Ron, Just My Way. Time: 1:01.5 (26.3). Distances: short head, 2 lengths. Winner trained by Derek Cruz.