GO WITH THE LORD
He may not have reached the heights he was expected to scale in quick time at the end of his first season but Lord Of Warriors is good enough to win the featured Ewo Trophy at Sha Tin today.
Lord Of Warriors looked a class act in the making last season but he has been somewhat disappointing this time around.
He has run creditably enough on several occasions but big-time victories have eluded him.
This is a combined Classes One and Two event and the 1,800 metres will suit the Tony Cruz-trained topweight who is out of a Secretariat mare and ran arguably his best race of the season when just touched off over 1,900 metres by Northern Fireball who re-opposses today but whose recent form has been poor.
Lord Of Warriors finished a good third to Sweetheart in the final race before Christmas over 1,600 metres and the four-year-old gelding seemed to have every chance.
But he was doing his best work close home and the handicapper has upped him merely a point for the effort, so he does remain very competitively placed in this 12-runner event.
It comes down to Lord Of Warriors producing the best of which he is capable over the extra distance and that should be good enough to see him home, although it would be foolish to take too short odds about him.
Betting moves will be of major interest.
The eye-catching run put in last time out in Lord Of Warriors' race was that of the lightly weighted French Fry.
On that occasion he was ridden by maximum claimer Roger K. H. Yu and it was not the lad's most inspiring ride. In fact, French Fry was too far out of it in the middle stages to be a serious hope of winning but he did fly home to be a length and a half away in fourth place, right on the tail of Lord Of Warriors.
The decision to engage champion jockey Basil Marcus is a sensible one as this is a horse who requires some riding.
It will be no surprise to see the Geoff Lane-trained stayer, who has solid form in France, actually start favourite. Again, there is every indication that the distance will be in his favour but there is a lurking suspicion that French Fry will always be seen to advantage at the tail end of his races - finishing on strongly but not actually winning.
This is certainly a crucial test for French Fry because it is a race that he could win.
Fortune Dancer seemed to be beaten solidly on merits last time in Sweetheart's race and gets only minimal weight relief in relation to Lord Of Warriors.
He does look a good young horse and would have to be included in quinella and tierce bets. He steps up to 1,800 metres but the Rahy four-year-old is out of a Nijinsky mare so stamina should not be an issue.
Inventor seemed to get on all right with claimer Henry K. C. Tsang last time when they were narrowly beaten at Happy Valley but they may find it harder switched back to the main track.
Under now stood-down Richard K. M. So, Inventor tried to make all over 1,900 metres in the race won by Northern Fireball where Lord Of Warriors finished second but the selection, on form and weight, should safely hold him.
Team Honour has been one of the staying finds of the season and was deemed a certainty at Happy Valley last time out when ridden by Gary Stevens. He was back to his own grade after finishing a stunning second in the St Andrew's Challenge Quaich to Class One ace Monza.
The lack of a decent pace in the Valley race finished Team Honour and he does come much more into contention here although he would surely be better suited by longer than 1,800 metres as he has already proved this season.
The riding engagement for Celestial Fortune does not inspire confidence and Citadel, a shock winner last time, may find it harder over this longer trip and in slightly tougher company.
My Friends Say may also struggle at the distance and Amza Glory has been in only fair recent form.
Starlight Express has worked as if he will run much better and they don't come much more honest than Aspiration, but he is still a maiden.