Champion Marcus to return to winning ways
CHAMPION jockey Basil Marcus rarely goes for too long without a winner and normal service is likely to be resumed at Happy Valley tomorrow night following a blank day at the big Lunar New Year meeting.
The South African rides the obvious banker bet for the second leg of the Double Trio when he partners topweight Sumitori in a Classes One and Two longer sprint. Sumitori has had two outings in Hong Kong, putting in an eye-catching run for fourth at 99-1 for Frankie F. C. Lor, before Marcus partnered him last time when going under over the longer Sha Tin sprint when 11-10 favourite.
He went under to smart newcomer Millenium Reigns, who came home strongly off the fast early pace set by Sumitori and had 21/2 lengths over the Ivan Allan-trained beaten favourite at the line.
But it is that same early pace which could see Sumitori home tomorrow night as he zips around the Valley bends under Marcus, who rides the city track so well.
And the champion jockey could not have asked for a better draw as he is next to the rails and a quick getaway should see him dominate proceedings in this nine-runner event which does not have a lot of real depth.
Fighting Strike disappointed badly last time at this course and distance when a hot favourite, having previously scored well over the extended Valley sprint. Tony Cruz sticks with Fighting Strike and he remains one of the obvious chances and a must for a DT leg.
John Moore has both Parkview Fame and Ever The Best involved, ridden by Gerald Mosse and John Marshall respectively, and both have modest claims.
Ever The Best at least gets a major drop in weight as this is a combined handicap and he has been lumping big weights around recently.
His runs have been honest enough but his best overall form has been at Sha Tin and over 1,200 metres at that course.
On their most recent efforts - and over this trip - there's not really a lot to be said about the rest of them.
The first leg of the Double Trio is an intriguing Class Three event over 1,650 metres where there are a number of chances.
The answer for the banker could be the Geoff Lane-trained Feodor, who ran a reasonable second to Courageous over this trip two starts back and was not disgraced over an equitrack mile last time.
He may not be a great winning chance but riding engagements play a part here and Feodor should finish in the first three.
Good As Gold put in an eye-catching run first time up for K. H. Hung, who retains the ride on the Lawrie Fownes-trained galloper. This one looks to have a future on his first run and must come into DT calculations, although there may be reservations aboutthe engagement of Hung, one of the lesser lights on the riding scene.
In-form Walter Swinburn rides Sun Crest, who will find this a bit easier and put in a good run last time. On that run he would not have to find much in this combined handicap, although his best form has been at Sha Tin.
Mosse rides Muster Mark for Bruce Hutchison, who has had little luck so far this season with 10 second placings, many of them as close as that of Lucky Pal on Saturday.
Muster Mark is a robust, hardy Irish import who disappointed badly last time out when there appeared no obvious excuses. He has been freshened up for this 1,650-metre event and merits definite consideration.
Prince Of Minstrel reverts to the grass after a number of equitrack runs, including a much better effort last time, and he could have admirers.
while Star Greeting went under by a short head at Sha Tin on his last outing and appears to have held his form.
In this 10-runner field there is virtually none that can be completely ruled out so the prospects are there for an exciting contest.