Yip's Fokine has enough firepower

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 February, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 February, 2005, 12:00am

A return to handicap conditions and a true tempo should be enough for Dennis Yip Chor-hong-trained Fokine to get back into the winner's circle in the South China Morning Post Cup at Sha Tin today.

The Cup looks a thriller but will set a tough task for punters with virtually any of the 13 runners capable of winning.

The riddle is made that much tougher by having so many proven high grade runners coming down from premier class but having to concede plenty of weight to some very genuine gallopers at the bottom of the handicap.

Fokine (Eric Saint-Martin) falls into the latter category and he is certainly going to find a few more things bounce his way than he did behind Scintillation in the Classic Mile last time out.

Not only was Fokine severely disadvantaged by the level weight conditions against more highly-rated runners, Saint-Martin had little luck in the early stages from gate eight and was forced to take the gelding to the rear to get any cover.

That was a major disadvantage as Scintillation strolled along in front at a comfortable pace and made the task of coming from the rear simply impossible. Fokine stuck to his guns and ground home to be beaten only three lengths and in the circumstances could not have been expected to do much more.

Fokine has again drawn eight but it looks an altogether different event, with Figures, Classic Master and Great Delight all free-rolling horses whose dispute over the front role should ensure that the race is at least a normal tempo that allows the backmarkers to get into the affair over the final 200m.

That is where Fokine's lighter weight should kick in as a positive and he will be finishing strongly as will other lightweights like My Choice (Howard Cheng Yue-tin), Lucky Paradise (Jacky Tong Chi-kit) and Sirocco (Craig Williams).

A paragon of consistency, My Choice plummets from 130 pounds last week behind Being Famous to just 113 pounds and there is every reason to expect another great run from him based on his last meeting with Fokine. My Choice was a close third that day and most unlucky after racing wide. He meets Fokine slightly better at the handicaps.

The prospect of a senior jockey could see Sirocco ridden more quietly. The Tony Millard-trained gelding has won or been placed at almost half of his 44 starts and won well over the Sha Tin 1,400m earlier in the season in similar company.