Marcus gives Allan 'Quick Action' birthday present
By LAWRENCE WADEY
BIRTHDAY boy Ivan Allan unleashed a potential griffin star yesterday when Quick Action toyed with his opposition in the opening event at Sha Tin.
The Alzao debutant had looked just about the best of the griffins in strong work at the moment and he more than lived up to his homework when winning hard held by Basil Marcus by a long-looking 21/4 lengths from Wong Tang-ping's Polar Star.
The latter ran home strongly over the final 200 metres to pip Patrick Biancone's Long Run, the 6-5 favourite, for second.
There should be no mistaking the authority or quality of Quick Action's win as Marcus was able to ease him down from around six lengths clear with 150 metres to run.
He could also afford the luxury of 10 - yes 10 - peeks over his left shoulder just to check if the opposition were in the same parish.
They were by the time Quick Action had past the post in a virtual hack canter but, most emphatically, they were not in the same class.
Allan only returned on Saturday night from a buying mission in Australia and New Zealand, having been delayed by the bush fires which have been raging around Sydney.
''I spent 20 hours on the road from Brisbane and had to turn back which cost me another nine hours,'' he said.
''But I've been clever as I bought another Alzao when I was down there.'' In all he bought four privately and expects to have made another eight to 10 purchases by the time the sales are completed.
Marcus was impressed by Quick Action but the canny champion jockey refused to answer questions as to how he would compare with Debonair, one of last season's griffin sensations who set a benchmark 12 months ago with two brilliant displays down the straight 1,000 metres.
The disappointment of the race was Long Run who had been a very comfortable winner of the first griffin event of the season a couple of weeks ago.
But he was never travelling as smoothly as he did when scoring and jockey Eric Legrix reported that he hung with him for much of the way which suggests he could have been feeling a sore shin which so often happens with these young horses.
Polar Star kept on strongly and will do better over farther which also looked to be the case with Allan's Privilege who finished sixth of the nine runners.
Marcus went on to complete a double when Lionheart overpowered Souper close home in the third.
Interestingly, both horses were sporting blinkers for the first time. Marcus felt they helped Lionheart concentrate on racing and go through gaps which he had shied away from when fourth to Courageous at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
Souper had no luck in running as he was trapped wide from his bad draw for much of the way and did well in the circumstances.
For Marcus it was win number 33 of another prolific season, leaving him seven clear of nearest pursuer Tony Cruz.