Saturn's gallops out of this world
Saturn, Ivan Allan's sole entry for the $14 million Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby, sent an unmistakable message across the galaxy that he is bang on target for this year's classic with a scintillating piece of work on the turf last Saturday.
Eddie Lai Wai-ming was on board the son of Marju, who was timed in a sensational 1.11.9 over the 1,200 metres gallop. His splits were equally impressive, the last 600 metres in 45.7 seconds and the last quarter in 22.9. The ease in which the four-year-old clocked that time was most encouraging.
He also caught the eye on the riverside yesterday when clocking 45.7 seconds over 800 metres and once again was highly impressive.
The British import, who finished fifth in the Newmarket 2000 Guineas (Gr 1) over a mile and fourth in the Irish equivalent, has taken a little time to settle in this season. However, he turned all that around when making every post a winner over 1,800 metres in the Tseung Kwan O Handicap - the new-look Derby Trial for Class One and Two horses - on February 28. Judging by his recent work he has improved further since that win and looks in fantastic order.
Allan, a past master at setting horses for the big occasion, would have to be delighted with his Derby prospect.
David Hayes has a trio of entries assembled for the biggest domestic race on the calendar, with Beethoven undoubtedly the star of his pack in trackwork.
The striking son of champion New Zealand sire Zabeel has been working exceptionally well in a series of gallops over the past couple of weeks. He moved particularly stylishly when winning a 1,050 metres dirt trial last week and his work since has been positive.
It has also been hard to fault the work of stablemate Ain't Here, who has had a stack of demanding gallops since his last run on February 28. He continues to impress all round and looks in tip-top shape.
Early Derby favourite Lucky Owners has done absolutely nothing wrong in his work leading up to the big occasion. He cruised to victory in a turf trial over 1,000 metres on March 2 in a typically awesome piece of work and was noted clocking a final quarter of 21.9 seconds yesterday on the all-weather in a nonchalant manner. Tony Cruz has the Hong Kong Mile winner in sparkling condition.
John Moore must have been tickled pink when Tiber drew gate one. This fellow moved exceptionally well in the trial won by Lucky Owners and his turf gallop over 1,200 metres this week was simply brilliant. He looks fit and well, and his work cannot be faulted in any way.
David Oughton-trained Roosevelt, has arguably the best overseas form of any Derby entry, with his third in the Irish Derby over 2,400 metres. His preparation has been hindered by leg problems, but he came through his only gallop in good style this week.
He looks fitter than he did for his run on March 7 but due to his limited work there is no question of him being at his peak. His undoubted class may help him overcome his lack of race-hardness, however.
Caspar Fownes has a decent chance with Australian import Perfect Partner, but he missed a couple of weeks' work due to a setback. He moved well over 800 metres in a dirt gallop earlier this week when clocking 49.2 seconds and looks very well indeed.
John Size's initial list of entries for the 2004 Derby has dwindled to just one, Liberal's Choice. Since finishing fourth in the Tseung Kwan O Handicap on February 28 he has been restricted to one 800 metres gallop, clocking a steady 51.5 with the Australian trainer aboard. There doesn't appear to be significant improvement since his last run, but he looks in good order.