Lloyd can earn stripes riding American Star
SOUTH African champion Jeff Lloyd gets the first chance of his three-month stint to display his obvious talent when he partners topweight American Star in the first leg of tomorrow's Double Trio at Sha Tin.
This Class Four event over 1,400 metres could easily develop into a tussle between three of last season's better youngsters in American Star, Allegresse and the enigmatic California Gold.
But American Star has been doing everything right leading up to his re-appearance and an excellent trial win last week suggests trainer Tony P. H. Chan has him bang on target for a first-up success.
American Star started four times in his debut season and caught the eye in his first run when second to the excellent Debonair before, at ludicrously short odds, obliging over the longer Valley sprint at his second start.
He then tackled the Happy Valley Vase where the 1,650-metre trip looked to have found him out.
Switched back to 1,400 metres - tomorrow's trip - at his last start he finished a length behind Mountain Champ carrying a hefty 139 pounds.
He may well have been feeling the effects of a fairly vigorous campaign at his last start and he certainly ran a decent race under a big weight.
The American-bred three-year-old seems to have summered well and there is nothing in his work and trials that could put one off supporting him tomorrow.
California Gold has drawn out in the wilderness for this event and he goes into it with a slightly dented reputation. That may sound a trifle strange as the horse has finished second at three of his four starts and third on his debut.
But he was spoken about as a coming champion even before he ran and on all four occasions last season he was solidly beaten on the merits. But he did finish second to both Explorer and Mighty Mighty and they are expected to progress.
The Derek Cruz-trained Allegresse started twice last season for a win obtained in the stewards' room after he had been interfered with by Good Choice in a 1,000-metre dash.
He was then beaten out of sight in open company when Humdinger won the 1,200-metre event - in soft ground. That aided the winner enormously while, conversely, Allegresse never looked happy. It should pay to forget that run and go on the fact that he looksto be an improving youngster.
Of the established horses, the Patrick Biancone-trained Partner, blinkered for the first time and down into Class Four, makes most appeal.
The horse has definite ability and is probably best suited by this trip. He was right out of form for much of last season but has done better in his early season work.
Southern Glory is also towards the bottom end of Class Four and could show up although he is getting older and looks to have it to do against some of these up-and-coming youngsters.
Irish import Ace Of Trumps appears to have come through the summer break well and should really find his feet this season. In a tricky second leg to the popular DT, he looks a reasonable banker bet.
Ace Of Trumps ran a solid second to Lionheart at his final start of last season over 1,400 metres where he was cut down in the final strides.
He had run on well under pressure but Lionheart burst out of the pack to dominate the closing stages. It may well be that Ace Of Trumps will appreciate tomorrow's 1,600 metres and he has done enough to put in a very forward showing.
Seven Delight looks a handy runner for joint champion trainer John Moore.
as he has come down five rating points since finishing just over two lengths adrift of Iron Horse, course and distance, on May 16.