Our Pal in line to make many friends
THE Classic Trial is the eagerly-awaited highlight on today's card at Sha Tin and I can't oppose one of the most progressive horses I've ever ridden in Hong Kong - Our Pal.
I'm sure I'm not alone in really looking forward to the race in general as well as to Our Pal in particular.
The Derek Cruz-trained son of Bakharoff has made remarkable improvement from Class Five to Class One to become the horse they all have to beat in the Derby, let alone today's trial.
Indeed, I count myself very fortunate to have been able to partner him to five wins from six rides. It is a record of which I'm very proud.
After partnering him to these victories I'm confident he has what it takes under Tony Cruz this afternoon.
What makes Our Pal stand out as a very classy individual is his pacing. He can be placed in any position in a race and I took full advantage of tactic in his last victory.
When you can jump with your opponents and have your horse put you in a position where you can read what all the other guys are up to, it is a big step down the way to eventually coming out on top.
A good horse like Our Pal, who has strengthened up and relaxed a good deal compared to last season, makes the job a whole lot simpler.
It's also a great feeling to turn for home and know that when you pull the stick your horse will respond and give everything he's got, including the will to put his head in front at the finish.
That, and about a length third to River Verdon at level weights, is why I think Our Pal can win this afternoon's Derby Trial before going on to bigger and better things in the Derby itself.