$23 says Diamond can do it again

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 January, 2005, 12:00am

Short priced favourites are the order of the day at Sha Tin this afternoon, with five top fancies listed at under 2-1, including last-start seven length victor Yellow Diamond.

The talented young galloper is a member of the astute Alex Wong Yu-on yard and really showed his mettle in scoring effortlessly under Olivier Doleuze at Sha Tin on December 18.

He has been posted a $23 (for $10) favourite for his debut in Class Three, with the class jump being inevitable with such an easy win and the corresponding 15 point re-handicap.

Yellow Diamond is not, however, the shortest priced commodity on the 10-race programme.

That honour belongs to the feature race favourite Perfect Partner, who tops the overnight market at $22 for the Group One $8 million Stewards' Cup.

The consistent, high strike-rate season being enjoyed by trainer Tony Cruz and jockey Felix Coetzee has made them stronger than ever with rank-and-file punters, who don't worry about the odds with this winning combination.

And regardless of what the professional punters think of the value, the Cruz and Coetzee fans walk away with the cash so often that it's no trouble for them to come back for more.

Derby hopeful Grand Zulu heads the betting at $29 for the final event, the Fairy King Prawn Handicap (C1, 1,600m).

This race has only been run for three years but has been a very significant event in terms of the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby picture, so this is definitely Grand Zulu's chance to show the substance behind that big reputation.

Grand Zulu also figures as one of the day's most significant gear changes, with trainer John Size electing to remove the blinkers.

As Clint Hutchison points out today in his Racing Post feature preview, the gear change seemed a real positive for Grand Zulu at the trials.

Caspar Fownes will also be saddling up a tightly-priced favourite in Socrates in the fifth event, a Class Four handicap on turf, over 1,800 metres.

The promising Zabeel gelding has run very well at his last two starts and really only has to hold that sort of form to be the one to beat.

But if he happens to make any improvement, it's all over bar the shouting.