Boost for Biancone on eve of hearing
Arc-winning French trainer Patrick Biancone earned a timely boost on the eve of a crucial doping inquiry when his up-and-coming Indian Road overcame a hideous start to record a brilliant breakthrough victory in yesterday's penultimate event.
Biancone, who this morning faces an adjourned hearing into positive swabs returned by brilliant L'Or de Martell Cup winner Whytellyou and unplaced griffin Rickfield, was in a typically ebullient mood following Indian Road's slashing win.
'I don't like to get too carried away about the young ones, but he [Indian Road] did do a wonderful job,' said Biancone.
'The horse had really pleased me in his work leading up to this. And he had come through the summer break in good shape.' At his only start as a griffin last season, Indian Road was a game second to New Trumps down the straight 1,000 metres. It was an effort that had him earmarked as a genuine prospect.
He had trialled well in readiness for his seasonal debut and punters steamed in, making him a raging 6-4 favourite to dominate what looked a thin 1,200-metre, Class Three dash.
That money did, however, look decidedly shaky when the three-year-old gelding - drawn the coveted barrier one - virtually walked out of the gates.
Stewards noted that Indian Road had been 'very restless after being boxed' and when he missed the kick, many hearts must have missed a beat.
But newly appointed stable jockey Freddie Sanchez kept his cool, allowing the son of Cahill Road to find his feet and by the time the field had covered the first furlong, he'd recovered to be sitting sixth on fence and ready to pounce.
'We were expecting a big performance from him and I wasn't too worried at all when he blew the start. Freddie did a good job to let him settle before getting him into the race,' Biancone said.
It was a polished and confident display from Sanchez who simply eased Indian Road off heels shortly after straightening and then dashed past pacemakers Plenty-Plenty and Fukien Boy to set up a winning break.
He is obviously headed for greater things than Class Three, but there must be a concern over his roguish behaviour at the start.
For the time being though, connections will be delighted. The official margin was a little over a length and it could have been much wider despite the late charge of Wong Tang-ping's promising maiden Money Wins (11-1), who took significant ground off the winner in the final furlong.
John Moore's stoutly bred four-year-old Smartlord (10-1) will have gone firmly into many black books after steaming home when the race was all over to grab third money.
The Marscay gelding has just one win from 11 outings - recorded in his griffin year over the minimum trip - but he was rarely far from the money last season and is clearly looking for further.
And if Indian Road did his part to lift punters' spirits, then 67-1 outsider Wasabi brought them crashing back to reality when scoring a nail-biting, boilover victory in a tricky Class Two, 1,200-metre finale.
The Ricky Yiu-trained five-year-old is one of the smaller horses competing in the top grades, but what he lacks in size, he makes up for in heart.
Yesterday's success was his fourth from 25 starts and his first over the longer sprint trip.
One youngster who is guaranteed to remember the name 'Wasabi' is 10-pound claimer Way M. W. Leung, who steered the five-year-old to the narrowest of victories. It was Leung's first winner and he did a good job to get away cleanly and race on the speed before booting away halfway down the straight to hold off Delightful Special (23-1) and Alex Yu.
Rank-outsider South China Way (96-1) completed the rout for punters when sticking on well to fill the tierce.
Earlier, Carol Yu took her first scalp for the season when the versatile Cheerful (47-1) raced without cover and still had enough to hold off veteran Sure Win King (21-1) with Aspiration (5.9-1) third.
Freddie did a good job to let him settle before getting him into the race