DEMOLITION DERBY?

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 March, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 March, 1999, 12:00am

It is impossible to oppose Resfa in today's $7 million Hong Kong Derby, centrepiece of the local season and a renewal that has changed dramatically in a month.


Prior to the running of the annual Hong Kong Classic Trial, this year's Derby was being spoken about as one of the more open in several years.


In less than two minutes the picture changed utterly with Resfa's resounding demolition of a field that includes all of today's main hopes.


Trainer Ivan Allan, whose chance lies primarily with the excellent Billion Win, has pointed out that the time for the Classic Trial was not exceptional - but the manner in which Resfa reduced the field to almost second-raters certainly was.


It is impossible to find a logical chink in the armour of Resfa, who is an international Group One winner who ran magnificently in the December running of the International Cup when giving weight away to established locals like Oriental Express and Johan Cruyff.


And champion trainer David Hayes, who yearns for this Derby success, will have painstakingly prepared Resfa for the big moment.


In short, this is a potential Hong Kong champion racehorse in the care of the champion trainer. Resfa will be primed for his Derby attempt.


Champion jockey Basil Marcus played a major part in getting Resfa to Hong Kong for Hayes and he has ridden him to date with a confidence in the horse's ability.


He was criticised for giving Resfa too much to do at its second start and that may well have been the case, but it is more likely to have reflected his strong belief in the horse.


Above all, Resfa is going to be much better suited to 1,800 metres. The South African star drew just about perfectly in barrier seven, which gives him options.


The biggest improver coming out of the Classic Trial field could be Desert Fox, who ran third in the Irish equivalent at The Curragh last summer. He has been impressive in several pieces of work for race jockey Michael Kinane but he was soundly beaten in the Trial by Resfa.


'Rain would be a major help, he likes to get his toe in. In reality, we're all probably battling for second,' said Kinane.


That's certainly the belief of Allan, who looks to Billion Win as his big chance. Billion Win's overall credentials are impeccable and he may not have been himself when beaten over three lengths into second place behind Resfa in the Classic Trial.


Allan can also produce them absolutely ready on the big day and Billion Win has the battling attitude that has made him a real crowd hero. There will be plenty of support in the quinella pool for him.


Ho Ho is a very promising stayer who hits the big-time today, but he had to dig deep last time to fight off challenges and he did exactly that. Ho Ho has displayed courage and character and he might be one for a tierce at good odds.


Although Championship has been working like a champion, if Hayes produced the quinella in the race, I would prefer to side with Schubert.


The real roughie in the race is Commander Charlie. He is the lowest rated horse in the field on 90, but trainer David Oughton, who has Desert Fox, was delighted that the horse finally got a run.


Like his trainer, I believe a very unlucky Commander Charlie is a 100+ horse and it has been one glitch after another that has seen him miss out on several decent races.