It's Comedy hour for Millard's followers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 February, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 February, 2000, 12:00am

When a number of his early well-backed runners went AWOL, some were all too ready to suggest that first-season South African trainer Tony Millard was little more than a comedian.

The Comedy, already twice a winner this season, has come back to haunt them as Millard is proving to be the one of the best signings since Arsene Wenger poached Anelka from Paris Saint-Germain for a paltry GBP500,000 and later banked a cool GBP19.5 million profit.

Tonight Comedy contests the third event on the Happy Valley card for the highly talented Millard who is already shaping as if future champion trainer material.

And the strange thing is that while the public were backing his runners almost as if defeat were out of the question during those initial meetings when Millard could do little right, since then they appear to have dropped off to some degree and the horses have been going off at reasonable prices and winning.

Sorry about labouring the pun but it's a funny old game.

Comedy faces no easy task in the third event, a Class Four mile event which sees the likes of Kowloon's Blessing, American Way and Wishes as strong form dangers.

But one thing is apparent from Comedy's work - he's really got his act together since joining Millard. He has floated through his gallops in the week leading up to tonight's race and yesterday he was seen out going through 800 metres in a pipe-opening 52.9 seconds.

Nor is it as if he joined Millard from a second-division trainer. He had previously been with the master but ultimately flawed trainer Patrick Biancone.

It pains enormously to say that about Biancone, who did so much to lift the profile of Hong Kong racing, lift the standard of horse husbandry out here and lift the spirits of most racing observers with his rapier-like wit and general bonhomie.

But how else can Biancone be depicted after his second, and this time extremely serious censure for his horses failing dope tests? It's Paris to a clove of garlic that he won't train here again.

Looking towards Saturday's Sha Tin mixed grass and dirt meeting and it is going to take an extremely good griffin to lower the colours of the David Hayes-trained newcomer Zenon Light.

Hayes scored with the seemingly unfancied Lotus Supreme on Sunday and that will have buoyed stable confidence for their griffins generally.

International Sale purchase Zenon Light appears to be one of their better ones.

He trialled extremely well last Tuesday and yesterday came through a solid 1,200-metre hitout in a useful 1:23.1.

There were also two trials on the dirt with Lawrie Fownes' improver Bellagio taking the first heat by a neck from Peter Ho's experienced miler Wonderful Winners who had no luck when trapped wide from a bad draw last time.

Geoff Lane's veteran sprinter Fukien Boy had a head to spare over the low-grade Sincerely Yours in the second.

Eddie Lo's newcomer Happy Eclipse confirmed promising trackwork efforts by running a creditable third with Ho's promising Optic Elite showing good speed before finishing fourth.

Yesterday's Sha Tin dirt trials