Mount Sapphire a gem of a ride for veteran jockey Tsui
By LAWRENCE WADEY
A PRETTY ordinary meeting coming up on the grass at Happy Valley next Wednesday but a winner is a winner is a winner and Mount Sapphire has an attractive look about him in the local riders' event.
The scheme is arguably ill conceived - its critics argue persuasively that it provides a bounty on incompetence - and these races hardly fit in with the overall policy goal of putting Hongkong racing on the international map.
But for punters these races have worked out really well. They are often weaker, uncompetitive handicaps with a few horses standing out making it possible to get the quinella if not the win as well.
Veteran local jockey Raymond K. L. Tsui is almost certain to take the ride as usual.
He has a good rapport with this confirmed stayer and rode one of his best races ever when Mount Sapphire defeated the Basil Marcus-ridden L'Enjoleur two starts ago.
Tsui kept L'Enjoleur in a pocket from the home bend and managed to get first run on his chief rival.
Mount Sapphire certainly stands out on form in Wednesday's Classes Four and Five 2,230-metre contest.
He stays all day as he showed when overpowering L'Enjoleur and Royal Blue in that course and distance event.
Since then he has run very well over 1,800 metres in a much better race than this at the Valley and he appears to have trained on well at the track.
He is a sparely-made individual who doesn't need too much work - if he was over worked he would lose his form.
Trainer Wong Tang-ping has managed to find the right mix of keeping him fit and keeping him from going over the top and yesterday Mount Sapphire looked as well as at any time this season when completing a solid lap, by his standards, of the main Sha Tin equitrack.
Another local jockey, W. H. 'Rambo' Tse has come to the help of English trainer David Oughton whose useful low-grade sprinter, Song Of The Sea, had become a real problem at the barriers.
When in trouble send for Rambo and he appears to have worked the trick. Song Of The Sea went well enough in a recent trial and is a very interesting runner in the second section of the Class Five 1,235-metre handicap. He won a similar event to this towards the backend of last season and merits plenty of respect.
Neville Begg's horses are generally running well. His Goodcape Treasure is very much at home racing round the tight Happy Valley circuit and is an interesting runner in the Class Four mile handicap.
Goodcape Treasure, a course and distance winner, should be kept in mind as a definite quinella chance.