Claimer Lee to show Heart in dirt encounter

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 April, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 April, 1999, 12:00am

Little-used claimer Eric Lee Kai-wing could step into the Sha Tin limelight this afternoon courtesy of American Heart in the sixth event on the mixed programme.

Trainer Alex Wong Yu-on has called upon the services of the maximum claiming apprentice for his highly interesting runner who steps up to 1,650 metres on the dirt after an eye-catching run on the surface last time out.

American Heart was at the sizeable odds of 33-1 for his effort over the minimum trip on the all-weather surface and he ran as the price dictated over a trip which was manifestly too short for him.

But he did show a liking for the surface underfoot when he finally clawed his way into the race late, coming home from a hopeless position on the turn to finish fourth to Strong Win and Destination, both established dirt lovers.

The key to American Heart's chances lie almost entirely in the step up in distance to a mile.

He needs that to be effective and his effort over the shorter trip last time merely underlined that he does handle the all-weather surface - as so many American-bred horses do.

Clearly 10 pounds off his back to a wafer weight of 111 pounds is an advantage but he will have to come from behind again.

To a large extent, the onus is going to be placed on the inexperienced Lee but the dirt brings advantages that can outweigh a lad's greenness which would not be possible on turf.

With a number of horses in any given dirt race not at home on the surface, it gives an obvious and definite advantage to those who do.

Likewise, when horses are so at home on the surface, it is possible to take them wide, keep them clear and let them run hard to the line.

They will usually answer up as those unhappy on the surface simply struggle.

Booking young Lee has guaranteed those who wish to take the chance will earn goods odds about American Heart and a solid each-way wager is advised.

Hero's Way, who has been not too far away on the turf since his spectacular win on the dirt three starts back, must come in for serious consideration.

He has remained in fair form as his turf runs have shown and to win by four lengths on the all-weather says it all. He is prime quinella material and could win this without surprising.

Jewel Of Kentucky is another American-bred dirt freak and Club jockey Chris Munce gets a chance on the David Hill-trained runner in the enforced absence of hospitalised Felix Coetzee. He is a strong tierce chance.

Topweight Solid Gold, a last-start winner on the surface, attempts to repeat with Grant Cooksley in the saddle but may find this slightly harder.