Win precious for Murphy
By ROBIN PARKE
MAN-of-the-moment Declan Murphy will be attempting to keep his great run going in the featured Stock Exchange Challenge Cup at Happy Valley tonight when he again partners fluent last start winner, Precious Delights.
The Irish-American star is in the closing weeks of his Hongkong career and local punters will certainly miss him when he takes his considerable talents to Taipa next season.
Murphy has been riding in quite devastating form recently and his nerve-jangling win on Better Choice, to complete a Sha Tin double on Sunday, was riding perfection personified.
The self-effacing Murphy is modest in the extreme and, throughout his five years in Hongkong, has constantly given full credit to the trainers he has ridden for - and the horses underneath him.
Tonight he takes out Precious Delights for Derek Cruz, for whom he rode Our Pal to success on Sunday.
And another win for Cruz on Precious Delights would certainly please the former New York champion apprentice who first saw the light of day in faraway Tralee in the west of Ireland.
''Derek and I go back to my very first days here when I was with Eddie Lo and he was the assistant trainer.
''We got on well and I am really pleased to see what a great job he is making of training for himself. Not that I am surprised. He has always been a great worker and he knows his horses.
''And he has always been ready to put rides my way and this has been particularly so this season. Our Pal has been very good for both of us and I was delighted to win with him on Sunday.
''Precious Delights won really well on equitrack last time and the surface definitely did suit him. But I hope he repeats it,'' said Murphy.
Precious Delights has every chance of doing so as he is a winner over the longer Valley sprint and remains in great form in the mornings.
Ironically, Murphy's main threat could come from another rider who is heading elsewhere at the end of the present season - Nigel Tiley.
The naturalised New Zealander will partner Active Bobo and they make a very potent duo. Tiley has been associated with the horse since his early days in Hongkong and the now nine-year-old is still in tip-top shape.
He gave full evidence of that at his last start when he came from near last over 1,000 metres to finish a very creditable second to Super Falcon.
Active Bobo was a solid winner at Happy Valley earlier in the season and does relish his outings at the city track. He has won over this longer sprint on four occasions and can do so again tonight.
Active Bobo is giving away five years to Precious Delights but he is a very determined competitor and he could still be the one as Tiley also seeks to end his riding career on a suitably high note.
This Class Three event could easily turn into an exciting little contest as we also have newcomer Link Treasure involved with Danny Lee doing the riding chores for Gary Ng Ting-keung.
Link Treasure has had only one lifetime run, finishing second in his native New Zealand. That has meant a Class Three rating in Hongkong but he could easily be better than that, given his very limited exposed form.
It is advisable to keep him very safe tonight and put him in all bets.
Further colour is added to the event by the presence of recently classified griffin Mighty Mighty who won most comprehensively over 1,200 metres last time out.
The reservations here must centre around the midweek venue. Mighty Mighty has had only two lifetime starts and is still learning about the game. The lights, noise and crowds at the city track can be decidedly off-putting to these young horses with such limited experience.
However, if Mighty Mighty takes it all in his stride he could be a force in this 10-runner event.
Club jockey John Marshall, in the final weeks of his direct employment with the Jockey club, partners Sir Valid for trainer David Oughton and the English sprinter has been thereabouts in recent runs.
He has been in the frame at his last three starts, finishing third along the rails last time to shock winner Jewellery Star over the Sha Tin longer sprint. He has moderate form overall but has been going well and must be considered a Tierce chance in this.
And adding more interest will be Top News, from the stable of Brian Kan Ping-chee.
Top News, of course, is in the centre of the on-going inquiry into the caffeine incident. Minute traces of that banned stimulant appeared in blood samples taken from Top News after his last outing at the city track.
The caffeine certainly seemed to have little stimulating effect on Top News as he finished five lengths from the winner and was never the ghost of a chance. He will be partnered by fully-fledged jockey Jimmy K. H. Ting but Top News looks a remote chanceat best.