Form and weight point to Ng's Lucky Clover
By ROBIN PARKE
TRAINER Peter Ng Bik-kuen provides an interesting banker for the second leg of the Double Trio as racing moves to a Saturday night date at Sha Tin.
The horse in question is Lucky Clover, just another of the seemingly endless supply of useful gallopers the local trainer obtains from Ireland.
Lucky Clover tackles the Class Three fifth event on the inaugural Saturday night card at the New Territories venue and it does not appear a race that would take a lot of winning.
There is a full field of 14 but, largely on the score of fitness, not many look far enough forward to threaten. Most of this field will come on a lot from this outing - but those that have done plenty could have it at their mercy.
And they include Lucky Clover whose work has been especially pleasing. The Henbit gelding also goes into the moderate affair with solid form behind him from last season - over this 1,400-metre trip.
He ran a short head second at huge odds to Tim's Joy - not a bad run from him last week, either - and was not disgraced at his final run of the season when he finished just over four lengths off Our Pal over a mile.
Although his sire won an English Derby, the 1,400-metre trip seems to be what Lucky Clover needs. He showed it in Ireland before export where his lone win was gained over six furlongs. When stepped up to a mile and beyond he was never in with a chance.
Ng, who had an unforgettable season last year, brings in claimer William K. S. Lam who is value for the 10 pounds that clearly brings Lucky Clover into this race at an ultra-competitive weight.
His second placing last season was achieved in a combined Classes One and Two race when he had Danny Lee aboard and an impost of 119 pounds. Now in Class Three and carrying 120 pounds with the claim, he does make appeal.
Young Lam is more than adequate and with a fitness doubt about some of the field, he looks certain to get a chance to become deeply involved in the outcome.
And should the ground come up worse than good, it won't be to the disadvantage of the selection who has placed in yielding ground both here and in Ireland.
A formidable threat does come from the bang in-form team of trainer Lawrie Fownes and ace jockey Darren Gauci.
They combine with Sandal Emperor, a versatile type who can be ridden from in front or behind. He has been doing plenty of work and Fownes' horses are running in tip-top form at this early stage of the season.
On the surface, Sandal Emperor's form is patchy but he may well be slightly better than the bare record shows and, under new tutelage now, could easily do significantly well at the first time of asking. Time and again a switch in stables has the desired result.
Racing Ace could beat the lot of them on the evidence of one run last season - but he has been drawn on the extreme outside (14).
That is tough at the 1,400-metre start but Racing Ace could still be involved at the finish. He finished second to boom galloper Dashing at Happy Valley over 1,650 metres last season and that form is gilt-edged.
He could still prevail, but much will depend on South African champion Jeff Lloyd getting him across from his bad draw. Caught wide throughout with topweight could prove too much, particularly against those already mentioned.
The first leg of the Double Trio has attracted 13 runners for the Classes Two and Three feature race on the programme. But this may well end up a much less competitive event than would be the case a couple of months down the line.
Most of the field are facing up to the trip at their first attempt and it is easy to envisage them strung out at the finish. Preference should go to those horses with a run under the belt.
Topweight Icy Bet will have come on considerably for his recent efforts when he looked above himself in condition while Thunder And Gold, who has won from in front on several occasions in the past, will go well.
Should Run For Me has done a lot of work and should give a sight for his new trainer, Chris Cheung Ting-pong. Champion jockey Basil Marcus is aboard.