Star on horizon for astute Chan
AMERICAN Star can take first-season trainer Tony P. H. Chan into double figures for the campaign by winning the fourth event at tonight's Sha Tin meeting on the grass.
Chan has removed the blinkers from his American-bred private purchase griffin who is stepping out into open company for the first time tonight.
Their removal should help and it has to be asked whether they should have been applied in the first place.
Last time out American Star was pitched in at the deep end and the subject of considerable support in the Happy Valley Vase won by Wonderful Moment.
Racing in blinkers, and ridden by Tony Cruz as regular rider Declan Murphy was unable to do the weight, American Star appeared to race too freely throughout.
It was not surprising to see him drop out from the top of the straight as he had burned himself into the ground against some very classy opposition over the Valley mile which can be a tough trip to stay for these young, inexperienced horses, especially if they are racing too keenly.
American Star should benefit from the drop back to 1,400 metres at Sha Tin tonight and the removal of the blinkers should see him race far more kindly for Murphy who is back in the plate.
Murphy knows the three-year-old well, having been on him since he first came into work some six months or more ago.
From very early on American Star impressed as in the very top echelon of this season's batch of griffins so he has to be a big fancy racing in Class Four.
He looks to have the potential to go to Class Two in time as he becomes physically stronger and mentally more mature from a racing point of view.
The 139 lb is a concern for a youngster such as this but that is more than tempered by the modest opposition he encounters.
Chan has shown a fair bit of cunning with this entry, teasing out an uncompetitive-looking Class Four contest for his potential stable star who is probably better off carrying a bigger weight against these than a lighter one against the much better quality of opposition to be found in Class Three.
American Star also comes into the race off some very useful work. He galloped on the grass on Tuesday in company with his stablemate and last-start winner, Fortune Ride, who is due to take a voluntary promotion to compete in tonight's Class Two seventh event.
Murphy rode American Star and Chan, himself, was on Fortune Ride. At their respective weights and their mounts' respective ratings - American Star is assessed 17 lb below Fortune Ride in current handicaps - Fortune Ride should have come out on top.
Instead it was American Star who appeared to go stronger to the line in a most encouraging piece which pointed to him being potentially very well treated at the bottom of Class Three and eligible to take these voluntary demotions into Class Four.
Darren Gauci looks a significant booking for Lam Hung-fie's Fortune Ring in this race.
Gauci scored on Lam's Planet going back a few weeks and appears to be booked when there is stable confidence behind one of their runners.
Fortune Ring, initially handicapped into Class Two, has plummeted down the weight scale to a mark from which he is poised to take a big hand in his races.
He also ran much better in the Class Three mile event won by Iron Horse last time and should be suited by the drop back in distance, the easier company and Gauci replacing the apprentice rider.
Lucky Record has picked up in work going into this race but there are few signs of encouragement from his recent form.
Mountain Champ would almost certainly have needed the run last time and should strip fitter tonight while this is Nickels King favourite course and distance.
The opening griffin event could see Top Glory improve enough to beat likely favourite California Gold.
Top Glory ran really well first time out over 1,200 metres, staying on strongly in a manner which suggested that he will be much improved for the experience and tonight's extra 200 metres.