Island Speed has plenty of raw talent

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 March, 2007, 12:00am

Handy three-year-old Island Speed may be the youngest runner in tonight's Hong Kong Rugby Football Union Cup (1,000m) at Happy Valley, but he looks the one they all have to beat.

The Peter Ng Bik-kuen-trained sprinter hasn't been spectacular, but he also hasn't done a lot wrong in his 10 starts and gives every impression the best is definitely ahead of him.

Jockey Anthony Delpech has done most of the riding on Island Speed, winning two of his six, and said after his latest victory two weeks ago that the youngster still feels weak and undeveloped.

That explained his inability to run out a strong 1,400m trip when he was tried a couple of times earlier in the campaign but his shorter sprint form has been sound, especially in his last two starts around the Valley.

Island Speed set a strong pace in a race fought out by the strong finishing Singing Diners and Hurray Hurray two starts back. His effort to box on for third was solid.

But that only seemed to work as a springboard to something better last time when he flogged a Class Four field over 1,200m to run faster time than Amo and Tiger Ridge in the Class Three 30 minutes later under much lighter handicaps.

Island Speed needs to do it again in the higher class and at his stage of development the manifestation of his physical under-development is seen in his inability to put strong runs back to back, but to assist him he comes back 200m this time and drops in the handicaps from 130 pounds to 119 pounds.

Island Speed has plenty of early speed but Delpech has the option to sit behind from gate six if the likes of Flying Sprinter, Divine Touch and Reunion cut loose on the lead.

That gives him an edge over the Andreas Schutz-trained Tiger Ridge, who is drawn three gates wider and will need some 'Whyte magic' to find the right spot.

Tiger Ridge has not run a bad race since joining Schutz's yard and should probably have beaten Amo last time out after missing the start then being held up down the straight.

He should prove just as effective at the 1,000m where he has been a winner in the past, but that awkward draw isn't going to help him.