Red Zone keeps Hutchison in pink
Embattled long-serving handler Bruce Hutchison is nothing if not a fighter.
Against all the odds, his indomitable spirit saw him survive a horror car smash and now he's fighting to retain his licence for next season.
His horses have been in excellent form of late and yesterday his Red Zone underlined what a potent threat he will be to all, should he line up at Happy Valley on Saturday night's Grand National card. Red Zone has improved throughout his career, putting in his best effort to date last time when scoring in feature race company over Sha Tin's 1,200 metres.
Yesterday Red Zone came through a solid 1,200-metre hitout in a pleasing 1:23.4 under his riding boy and not only has the grey never raced better, he's never looked or worked better either.
He's sparkled on the Sha Tin work tracks since his win and looks set to go close when he's next seen out. If that is in Saturday's night's Class Two 1,000-metre dash then don't be surprised to see him put in a big effort.
Ivan Allan is coming with his customary late dash that must strike fear into the hearts of his championship rivals in their struggle for training supremacy.
Yesterday Allan had many of his runners for this evening's Sha Tin card out and about doing light, pipe-opening exercise.
That is usually a good sign - a sign of Allan meaning business. His recent acquisition Quick Commander did most of all, coming through a strong 800 metres in 49.5 seconds under stable jockey Douglas Whyte who is himself putting in a similarly strong late championship challenge.
Quick Commander scored at the first time of asking for Allan having shown plenty of promise prior to that with Tony Cruz.
He didn't beat much last time and should have won a lot more easily but was constantly blocked down the home straight. It is more than possible that there is further improvement to come, so keep him safe tonight.
Allan's Red Diamond would never have troubled the principals Toy Warrior and El Viento when unplaced at Sha Tin last time out but he was the victim of a poor ride and should have finished considerably closer. He's been working well for some time and yesterday came through another useful 800 metres in 49.5.
He managed to hit the line strongly last time despite going via the Regal Riverside hotel and could well be a late-season winner for Allan and Whyte.
Talking of Toy Warrior and El Viento, they were both out yesterday morning.
Trainer Eddie Lo is pouring the work into El Viento, who's only lightly framed. He galloped quickly again yesterday, having done likewise last Friday.
Toy Warrior just went for a walk in the park. Clearly he is potentially top class given the way he sauntered home last time but he's also looking like a top-flight individual. He exudes quality.
David Oughton has his grey Espresso moving sweetly. He's not had any luck of late and is one for the end-of-season shortlist.