Ping's griffin to get punters off to flying start

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 March, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 March, 2000, 12:00am

Northern Gold Ball can stamp himself as one of the most exciting staying griffins in training by taking the opening event on Sha Tin which the youngsters look set to dominate.

The highlight is the Centenary Cup, the second leg of the Champion Sprint Series, for which Fairy King Prawn and Best Of The Best are the clear form picks from Charming City and Whytellyou.

For much of the rest of the meeting there are a number of unraced or lightly raced types who are going to take all the beating.

They are unlikely to be anything other than prominent in the market but they really should go close.

Northern Gold Ball will be back early in the first as he's not the greatest at the start and nor is his jockey Alex Yu.

But he is really developing into a most imposing individual and the way he sliced through his opponents second time out to win going away by 3.25 lengths from Connoisseur's Bet was mightily impressive.

Connoisseur's Bet is now seven pounds better off and has improved in his work. He looks a live quinella hope but Northern Gold Ball also appears to have blossomed and everything about him points to him relishing the move up in distance.

Century Star was fourth to Northern Gold Ball and has progressed from there to be a short-head second on each of his subsequent two outings. He has definite tierce claims but along with Northern Gold Ball and Connoisseur's Bet, it could be better to throw Lucky Sabre into quinellas.

He looks every inch a staying sort and his second to Little Woman, with Lotus Supreme third, appeared to come in a strong 1,000-metre contest.

In the second event it's the David Hayes-trained brilliant trackworker, the twice-raced Prime Witness, that is set to start a short-priced favourite.

He looks the winner with the Geoff Lane-trained debutant College Kid a definite tierce chance on some fluent work.

The three-year-old Supreme Champion, starting for the second time for Ricky Yiu Poon-fie and for the first time in Class Five, should go close in the fourth.

He appears to have improved since joining Yiu, having started to come to himself just prior to the stable change. The mile should be far enough for him.

One of the two unraced sorts, Hayes' Refreshingly or the Peter Chapple-Hyam-trained Platinum Express, is likely to win the fifth.

Preference is for Refreshingly who trialled really strongly down the straight under former jockey Danny Lee who went to the line with his feet in the dashboard.

But Platinum Express is likely to be finishing strongly and definitely merits respect.

He trialled impressively before leaving New Zealand and in England, Chapple-Hyam was renowned for setting his good youngsters to win at the first time of asking.

This could be a big day for the former master of Manton and multiple Group One and Classic-winning trainer as Counter Attack in the penultimate event looks just about the best of his unraced sorts.

Counter Attack is perhaps marginally better than Platinum Express. He's certainly a more active sort, but Platinum Express could just be the type that really finds come raceday and he might just need a mile.

Counter Attack may have most to fear from Alex Wong Yu-on's once-raced Prospero, who should have nearly won on debut, Yiu's more experienced and very useful Class Four performer, Kudos, and Ivan Allan's improving Intrigue.

Gold Charm and Fairway Finder, who has been flying since his debut win, look to have the last at their mercy.