Starlight can reign supreme
Starlight Supreme, in the right kind of race for the first time this season, can take the opening event on this evening's all-dirt card at Sha Tin.
Trainer Andy Leung Ting-wah was the first to go on record and stress a switch to dirt sprinting was what made all the difference when Starlight Supreme scooted home in a Classes Five and Six contest last March. The selection won by a very comfortable 3.25 lengths and then progressed to run a cracking third in a Class Four dirt sprint. That third was to none other than stablemates Leisure Island and Asian Express.
Since then Starlight Supreme has been on the grass, though he did run one other respectable race on the dirt when pushed up to a mile. Due to competing this way his rating has dropped back to 29, which is the same mark from which he won last spring.
Last time out Starlight Supreme showed all the old zest was still there when racing fast for a long way in the 1,200-metre sprint won by Winning Focus from Refreshingly.
And since then his work has been right out of the top drawer. He simply flew in a jump-out on Monday morning. He had no trouble at all leading his higher-rated sprinting stablemate, Silver Collector, and moved most sweetly throughout the solid hitout.
It would be a big surprise if Starlight Supreme does not make a bold attempt to lead all the way tonight under stable jockey Mark de Montfort, who is riding for the first time back from a suspension.
Speedy Dragon, another confirmed dirt sprinter, is going to pose some kind of threat while Coq D'Or, on a breakneck speed in the same race as Starlight Supreme last time, merits respect. Basil Marcus looks a significant booking for Coq d'Or, who also jumps from barrier one.
If something is to finish all over the top of them, then it could be the Brian Kan Ping-chee-trained Champion Ranger, who landed a quiet little touch on the dirt last time.
That form has been franked by runner-up Fakei Fortune coming out to run another creditable second, and since that victory Champion Ranger has appeared to work better than ever.
Elsewhere, the free-running Huge Hope should be a natural recruit to dirt racing in the second. These good workers nearly always thrive on the artificial surface and it appears to be a shrewd piece of race planning by trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam.
On the free-going front, Perfect Fun and Telecom Chief, other habitual track stars, are interesting runners in the fourth along with dirt specialist Big Mac and the highly progressive Luck And Fortune, who has looked a picture in the mornings.