Quiet tactics bring best out of Ho-trained galloper

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 May, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 May, 1999, 12:00am

Chief's Fortune, beaten by the track bias last time, can bounce back and take the fifth event on this afternoon's Sha Tin card.

Trainer Peter Ho has his team in cracking form and most of his best chances are ridden by today's pilot, the leading French jockey Eric Saint-Martin.

Both Ho and Saint-Martin retain serious title chances. Ho is only four off defending champion David Hayes and Saint-Martin is two back from the perennial riding ace, Basil Marcus.

They will be ultra keen for winners and Chief's Fortune appears to have the form to provide them with one. Last time out he was a fast-finishing fourth to Baby Wave Supreme and Paydirt over Sha Tin's 1,800 metres. That run came on the wettest track of the year and if his race had been an hour later, he would have at least run first or second.

Chief's Fortune has come to himself since being ridden quietly. The problem last time was that the track bias was still favouring those up on the speed and near the fence.

Later in the day, when the rain and the runners had got into the track, the bias did a predictable volte-face and favoured those out wide and swooping - to complicate matters when the rain eased off for the last couple of races the track became kind of even! But when Chief's Fortune was going round, the bias was against his confirmed run pattern though his and Good Putt's proximity indicated it would be changing soon. In the circumstances it was a top run from Chief's Fortune who has put together a number of fair efforts this season without quite getting his head in front. Collectively they point to a Class Five success being well within his compass.

And in Saint-Martin he appears to have the perfect rider for the job.

Saint-Martin, who has exquisite balance and hands, is at his best when riding these patient but predatory races and often produces them with telling late runs. For good measure, Chief's Fortune's last two Topspeed figures also point to imminent Class Five success. One going up and one coming down may give Chief's Fortune most to do. Manley's Fortune is the horse on the upgrade. He bolted home in the bottom grade last time and as he is so lightly raced he could well be a typical Wong Tang-ping improver.

Ping's youngsters tend to obey a kind of perverse law of Newtonian physics. What goes down must come up.

Bayview King is the one tackling easier company. He's had a number of excuses in Class Four and the last time he was in this grade he was checked out of the race.

Elsewhere, High Powered appears ready to go and win the second race. He ran a cracker over the dirt mile last time and this 1,800-metre trip is more his go.

Decouvert can bounce back on faster ground in the sixth while watch out for an improved run from Charming Success back on the dirt.