Bishop to send punters flying
Tough gelding Flying Bishop is the one that can send punters home happy after the final event at Sha Tin today, the 1,600 metres Class Three Chaozhou Handicap.
Flying Bishop, a seven-year-old son of Deputy Governor, has been a great 'bread and butter' horse for connections, having won five races and being placed in another 10 for stakes of just over $4.5 million - not bad work for a horse well short of top grade.
The Bishop goes well fresh and trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fie has him ready for a first-up tilt with plenty of pace and gallop work.
Classy French rider Eric Saint-Martin will have the sit and he is sure to give the gelding every chance, especially since they have drawn ideally in barrier six.
Flying Bishop is now very attractively graded on a rating of 74 - six pounds below the Class Three threshold. It's all the more attractive when one considers the gelding's background, with his last win being in Class Two on a rating of 90, over this course and distance.
Although he has been winless since the end of the 2003-04 racing season, Flying Bishop has still turned in a number of decent performances.
One was a close-up sixth behind High Intelligent, also over the Sha Tin mile circuit, when he was not well served at the start and ultimately settled back in the field in a slowly-run, leader-dominated race, but worked home nicely in the final stages.
Another was his fifth to Summerland over the same course and distance, beaten only two and a half lengths. Any of these performances should be good enough to land the prize in the lower grade affair this afternoon.
Hardest to beat could be fellow topweight, Courageousheart from the John Moore stable, with Michael Rodd on board.
The Australian pairing dominated proceedings on the opening day of the racing season, with Moore training four winners and Rodd riding three of them for him.
Courageousheart is better over a bit more ground but his form was ultra consistent last time in and Moore is sure to have him cherry ripe for the 1,600m event.
He will serve it right up to Flying Bishop in the final 200m and they appeal as a great quinella.
Best of the rest could be the Caspar Fownes's pair of Royal Army and Good Heart, who have both been working along attractively.
Another for consideration of the minor spoils could be Gallant Falcon, who failed to win a race last term but ran many good placings across a busy season.
Gallant Falcon, trained by Tony Millard and to be handled by Anthony Delpech, has also been working along nicely and the South African trainer is sure to have him ready to perform.
Bottomweight Noble Heart, with Douglas Whyte on, is the query runner. He is receiving 12 pounds from the two topweights and Whyte wouldn't be on him if he didn't think he has a real chance.
He was placed in his last three Class Three runs at the end of last season and really looked the part dashing up 400m in 22 second under the Durban Demon on the all-weather gallop on Friday morning.