Himalaya ready to scale Derby heights

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 February, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 February, 2003, 12:00am

Trainer Lawrie Fownes emerged with a dark horse for the Derby as jockey Christophe Soumillon worked the oracle on import Himalaya in the Shek Lei Pui Stakes yesterday.

The new race which stretched the card to 11 events was created from the 'second division' four-year-olds who missed a start in the Classic Mile, but Fownes has his eye on a meeting with the first division on March 23.

'All his runs have been great here, he has acclimatised very quickly and he is just coming right,' Fownes said after Himalaya stormed over favourite Joyful Spirit to winning going away. 'He's quite a big horse and has needed the racing to get him fit. Now that he's right, we'll be pushing towards getting a Derby start.'

Fownes admitted that Himalaya was a question mark at the 2,000 metres of the Derby, but was not ruling out the possibility he would run it strongly.

'He was never tried beyond a mile overseas, but by the manner of his racing you would not be prepared to say he couldn't run it. That was quite a grinding win today,' he said.

'He has overraced a little in one or two other runs, but he was still a bit fresh in those races. Anyway, I'll look at how he comes through this and we'll try to put him in an 1,800 metres race before the Derby and we'll find out more.'

The battered reputation of Multidandy took another pasting with his odds-on defeat behind Flashing Light yesterday in race eight, but probably unfairly if the opinion of jockey Glyn Schofield is correct. Schofield, the success story of this season, went home with another double and believes the best is yet to come from Flashing Star. 'He's only had three runs, won two of them over 1,000 metres and it really isn't his distance,' he said.

Trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fie said Flashing Star had not been wound down tight for yesterday's outing, the gelding's first for two months. 'He's definitely short of his top and can improve on that,' he said after the three-year-old survived a late assault from 100-1 first starter San Lorenzo. 'He ran well at 1,200 metres at his second run and I'm keen to put him over slightly longer distances.'

Former Hong Kong champion Robbie Fradd bagged his first double yesterday since his return to the saddle last December after his troubles with the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Fradd won the second for Gary Ng Ting-keung on City Patrol, then added troubled Magnifier for Dennis Yip Chor-hong in race 10.

In his debut season, Yip has done a fantastic job with his horses, but none moreso than with Magnifier. The gelding was runner-up to Fairy King Prawn in the Stewards Cup at his Hong Kong debut in 2001, but has since had problems with his feet, his heart and a tendon, and had just one race in 20 months before coming to Yip.

'There probably is not much more that could have gone wrong with this horse, but he is going well right now,' Yip said. 'He'll have a short break and then I'll look to get him up to longer distances than the mile.'