Marcus shows vintage magic with Good Win
It was vintage Basil Marcus yesterday at Sha Tin as he took out a neat double with a horse just learning to race and another who finally learned to win.
Marcus is licensed to March 17 and has indicated that he will finish his career when he finishes this time in Hong Kong, though his fans must wonder why when he is still riding in such invariably good form.
Marcus has been a master in the griffin races during more than a decade riding in Hong Kong, many of them for David Hayes, and the old firm was at it again when Good Win led throughout to win the opening event over 1,200 metres yesterday.
Marcus took control of the race from the start and never looked like being headed, as victory by the son of Dubai Creek and So Surprising brought back a flood of memories for the trainer.
'I officially took over the training at Lindsay Park from my father on August 1, 1990, the first day of the new Australian season,' Hayes said. 'And the first race run that day was at 12.01pm at a track called Gawler outside Adelaide and it was won by So Surprising, who also happened to be my first runner as a trainer.'
The win came as no surprise, with stable followers backing the mare down from 4-1 to 12-10 favourite before she bolted in her debut to win by five lengths.
'We had planned it for ages, so it was nice to see it come off but I guess it didn't take a lot of training to win with her really,' Hayes said.
'Her next start, So Surprising went to Flemington in Melbourne and did the same thing in a much better field there, so she was a very talented mare to be running in an Adelaide provincial maiden.'
So Surprising has also foaled the successful Hong Kong galloper William's Surpass.
Hayes has high hopes for the two-year-old Good Win, who benefited from his first-start experience when third behind John Moore's very smart Anabatik. 'He hadn't done a great deal before that race so I was very confident that he would go ahead for this race,' Hayes said.
'He had an extra 200 metres today but I did think that would suit him. His sire, Dubai Creek, was bred to get longer distances and I think this horse will get further, too, as he matures.'
The disappointment of the griffin event was the Tony Cruz-trained Futures Endeavour, a winner at debut, who could not beat a runner home yesterday as a hot favourite after looking to have his chance.
Marcus's second winner, Equikit, denied John Size his fourth win for the day when he staved off Billion Delight to spoil the party but it was time for a party of his own which had been a long while due. While Equikit has been consistent, he has taken 23 starts to register his first win but trainer Tony Millard was not complaining.
'He wasn't an expensive horse by any means but he has been a terrific horse for the owners,' Millard said. 'They are great people and although Equikit has more than paid his way in prizemoney terms, it's really nice to see them have a win with him. He is the sort of racehorse that is fun for his owners because it doesn't matter where you put him, he will run a race. On the dirt, on the turf. And he runs well at different distances.'
Equikit was more prominent than usual for Marcus yesterday, tackling the leaders soon after straightening rather than coming with a late rush as has been his style. He paid the price for that prominence by having a tougher-than-usual run but showed plenty of courage to fight back under Marcus' tenacious riding when Equikit had his head in front for a change. 'He isn't the best horse in the world, sure, but he is so honest,' Millard said.