Woods aims for Invitation
By ROBIN PARKE
FORMER Hong Kong-based jockey Wendyll Woods is hoping for a return to Sha Tin in December - and victory at the last Classic meeting of the English season on Saturday could clinch a ticket for him.
Woods will partner the excellent Missile Cat in the Group Three Kiveton Park Stakes at the Doncaster St Leger meeting and a win would put the seven-year veteran of the local scene firmly in the picture for the Invitation Cup.
Missile Cat has been the star of the Sean Woods stable this season and Wendyll's brother has been one of the success stories of the beleaguered English Turf. Both brothers would love an invitation to run in the December showpiece of the Hong Kong calendar.
And they probably came within a head of getting the nod already in the recently run Group Two Celebration Mile at Goodwood.
Formerly the Waterford Crystal Mile, this excellent race had been the longer term target for Missile Cat ever since the exciting galloper really began to show top form.
And he looked to have the race won when he battled back a furlong out to hold off all challengers _ only for Ulsterman John Reid to storm home down the outside on Swing Low and snatch victory on the post.
But a win in Saturday's Group Three event at Doncaster, following up on his excellent Celebration Mile showing, would put Missile Cat solidly in contention for a European slot in the 1,800-metre Invitation Cup.
Trainer Sean said: ''We have talked about the Hong Kong race for quite some time. It is the end-of-season target if you like as it is a valuable event - and for other very obvious reasons.
''Missile Cat is a good horse but my only reservations about Sha Tin would be the ground. I think he is that bit better with a little ease in the ground.'' And rooting for the brothers, of course, are trainer Lawrie Fownes and son Caspar. Wendyll rode for his uncle Lawrie throughout his stint in Hong Kong.
Also in contention for a European place is one-time Invitation Cup challenger Karinga Bay, regular ride for the Jockey Club's off-season apprentice jockeys' instructor, Brian Rouse.
The veteran rider has enjoyed a fruitful season and Karinga Bay hit unscheduled heights when finishing fourth in the midsummer showpiece, the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park.