Ever Bright ready for big time
Paul O'Sullivan might be the only trainer ringing Nigel Gray at the Jockey Club this morning asking for a higher ratings penalty for a winner after improving stayer Ever Bright put himself within range of Group racing with his third straight win.
Off an 83 handicap rating, Ever Bright (Danny Nikolic) needed a win in the D'Aguilar Peak Handicap (1,800m) and a seven-point ratings rise to fall into the handicap range of the Group Three Queen Mother Memorial Cup on May 12.
But while the win arrived, a very muddling tempo ensured a relatively small winning margin which might not normally have been sufficiently convincing to demand a seven-point rise.
'I might have to see if I can get the extra point or two to get him to the cut-off point of 90 to qualify him because I'm sure he wants 2,400m. Let's face it, he won't get many chances to run at that distance in Hong Kong, especially under handicap conditions,' said O'Sullivan, who wrapped up a short-priced double for the afternoon after scoring with long odds-on favourite Medic Power (Brett Prebble) in the third. 'The handicapper most likely will want to give him five or six, well, I'd be happy to have the extra point to make sure he gets in.'
Ever Bright has done well to win three of his four starts to date, not least because he keeps striking races with unsuitable speeds for a horse who is looking for longer and that was the case again yesterday, with Jiang Jun in front but not desperate to be there and slowing the speed to a walk.
'It wasn't ideal but Danny's handled the tactics well because he's gone up and around the second horse Fuji Sunrise at the top of the straight, held him in a pocket and got first run on him - it was the winning and losing of the race,' said O'Sullivan.
It was part of a double for Nikolic, too, after scoring on Elfhelm for Ricky Yiu Poon-fie in the seventh event, though Nikolic will soon be on the sidelines after incurring a suspension in Sydney on Saturday when he finished fifth in the AJC Australian Derby.
Medic Power was again full of authority in taking the Mount Butler Handicap (1,200m) to make it four wins on end and handled having to carry weight for the first time.