Marcus helps Allan and Hill out of doldrums

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 March, 2004, 12:00am

Jockey brings in Joyful Spirit and Desert Storm for trainers

In-form jockey Anton Marcus was at it again yesterday, helping out as former Hong Kong champion trainers Ivan Allan and David Hill as both continued their emergence from a lull.

Both trainers have begun to fire in recent weeks and Marcus was in the saddle as Allan's Joyful Spirit won the Kap Shui Mun Handicap over 1,650 metres on the dirt after Hill-trained Desert Storm was successful in the Class Four over 1,600m.

'It's great and I hope it keeps going,' smiled Marcus, whose form has been impeccable and he has rarely left a meeting without a win in recent weeks.

Allan said he had always been keen to try Joyful Spirit on the dirt but the lack of races for higher grade horses had put the appointment off until now.

'He is one of the best workers in the stable on the dirt and he has all that US blood,' Allan said. 'I was sure he'd handle it but there just weren't any suitable dirt races for him.'

Joyful Spirit has been a horse Allan prefers to hit the front late in races due to his tendency to loaf when clear and he gave Marcus the usual instructions yesterday.

'Ivan didn't want him to find the lead too soon but it was like the Red Sea parting when the run came and I had to take it,' Marcus said.

'And when he did, my heart started jumping,' was Allan's quip but he needn't have worried as Joyful Spirit carried his finish right to the line this time.

Another former Hong Kong champion, David Hill's stable numbers are lower nowadays and he had been facing an uphill task to meet the Jockey Club's performance criteria this season after a slow start to the term.

But Hill's fortunes have been revived in recent weeks and he needs another four wins in the final 28 meetings to satisfy his obligations under the licence.

'It's a numbers game. It isn't easy to make the 13 wins required when you have less than 30 horses in the stable as I have,' Hill said. 'But what is pleasing is that all the horses are racing well and I'm hopeful I'll be able to get at least another four and meet the criteria.'

Desert Storm was Hill's second winner for the week, following Cherished's victory at Happy Valley on Wednesday, and took him to nine victories.

'He's basically just a Class Four horse but if everything fell into place he might get away with one at the bottom of Class Three,' Hill said of Desert Storm.

Marcus said he had felt Desert Storm could turn the tables yesterday on short-priced favourite Noble Wind after being beaten by him in a photo for second last start.

'Last time I came six wide on Desert Storm and probably came a bit soon and I learned from it,' Marcus said. 'With the turnaround in the barriers, I thought there was a chance to beat Noble Wind, who was out in gate 14 this time. I just cuddled him for a bit longer today before making our run.'