Speedy has legs for opener

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 October, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 October, 1999, 12:00am

Speedy Champion looks a worthwhile wager on a desperately tricky card at Happy Valley this afternoon.

The Australian-bred gelding represents the David Hayes-Basil Marcus trainer and jockey combination which has done so well with youngsters in these Class Four contests.

And this afternoon's opening event is no more than a common-or-garden Class Four affair.

Speedy Champion is starting at the Valley for the first time and he has drawn the coffin box - gate 11.

But neither is insurmountable and these two factors might just be over-compensated for by punters who then allow him to start at a win and place price. Then he would be an attractive wager as his work this time in suggests he's much improved on his griffin days and is a cut above Class Four.

He's handled most of the youngsters that Hayes has asked him to gallop with and it could be that the drop back to the Valley's tough 1,200 metres suits him more than the 1,400 metres or the mile that he tackled on his two griffin outings last season.

He acquitted himself with credit on each start and now looks a better horse. On debut he was caught close home by Wong Tang-ping's Extraordinary over Sha Tin's 1,400 metres and then he had some useful types ahead of him in the shape of Typhoon, Winning Boy and High Spirits when fourth over a mile, also at the New Territories venue.

This griffin race is working out quite well as the second and third have both won in open company this season while the sixth-placed For My Wishes was first past the post last weekend only to lose the race in the stewards' room to Kindred Spirits. The fifth, Natural Classic, the eighth, Beetle and the ninth and 10th, Basketball Winner and Sillerent, have also run with promise.

And, significantly, Speedy Champion performed well in a recent Happy Valley barrier trial.

The selection may have most to fear from Lawrie Fownes' Heading To Win and the David Hill-trained Kowloon Jazz.

Heading To Win has solid Class Four credentials. He seems to have been freshened somewhat for this event - that's how he races best - and Fownes' runners have hit form with a vengeance.

Kowloon Jazz may get too far back to be able to win but he appeals as a decent quinella leg with the selection.

Arrowmint, another who has shown good form fresh in the past, could be best of the others along with Light Print.

And if American Way was at odds, he'd be worth putting into the tierce as he used to be a special over the Valley's 1,200 metres but it is some time since he figured.

Elsewhere, Hayes and Marcus may complete a double via Dragon Power who won so well first time out this season that he may now be able to handle Class Three company.

Winning Hurrah should win the third providing he jumps reasonably on terms while Commander Charlie should run a bold race in the last along with Winning Scene who went with lots of promise last time and Pinky Long Legs who is a special at the Valley.