High hopes as Medic Power looks back to scintillating best
As Sacred Kingdom heads into a period of rest and rehabilitation, his former nemesis Medic Power has emerged from one of his own and may just be ready for some unfinished business.
When Sacred Kingdom and Medic Power were powering their way through the grades in mid-2007, it was Medic Power who stood up to be counted at the first clash of the rising stars. But glorious dreams of international success lay in ruins after the International Sprint Trial last November, while the budding champion Sacred Kingdom went on to conquer the world.
Yesterday at Sha Tin, Medic Power gave trainer Paul O'Sullivan some hope that his chance at the big time may still lay in front of him.
Ridden by Brett Prebble, the five-year-old showed lashings of his former brilliance with a rousing gallop on the turf track, down a straight 800 metres course from the 1,800m chute to the 1,000m marker.
Medic Power worked with stablemate Walkonthewildside, a three-time Sha Tin winner and seemingly in good form himself, until humiliated by five lengths. Medic Power clocked a swift 22.5 seconds for his final 400m.
'That was very encouraging,' O'Sullivan said prior to the barrier draw for the Trainers' Ride for Charity, in which he is one of three participating handlers.
'Brett said he felt really good, and that he quickened up very nicely when he asked for something extra. That was more like his old self.' Remembering that Medic Power pulled up with a heart irregularity after the International Sprint Trial 10 months ago, and wobbled around like a drunken sailor in a mere barrier trial earlier in the year, O'Sullivan is not claiming a victory of any kind just yet.
'Perhaps more than with any horse, we are in one-day-at-a-time territory,' O'Sullivan said. 'But he's come through today's test positively and his next step will be a barrier trial on Tuesday. After that, we'll know a bit more about where we are heading.'
O'Sullivan has not been riding trackwork for the best part of a year but has pulled the boots back on in a bid to get himself ready for the charity event, a non-gambling race on Monday's new-season card that is attracting plenty of media attention.
O'Sullivan regrets that he could not lay his hands on one of the faster horses in the stable for the 800m scamper up the Sha Tin straight. His preferred mount, the very slick Happee Gift, is due to race the following weekend and the trainer would not risk flattening him six days beforehand.
The 11-times champion New Zealand trainer will instead throw his leg over Sambuoyant. The good news is that Sambuoyant was a dual winner last season and remains sound - the bad news is that Monday's promotion is over 800m, and Sambuoyant would prefer another 1,200m at least.
But O'Sullivan is subscribing to the old school theory on this occasion, that it doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's how you play the game. And if the tortoise-and-hare fable has any substance at all, you just never know.
O'Sullivan will earn HK$100,000 for his nominated charity, the Rosary Catholic Church. The parish priest is attempting to raise HK$300,000 to re-roof the church, so Sambuoyant's one-paced ways will be a blessing rather than a curse for once.
The incumbent 'champion' of the trainers' race, Derek Cruz, is a long odds-on favourite to win it again. His mount Bobo Win has it all over Sambuoyant, and Bodacious [Me Tsui Yu-sak] for natural speed.
'It's good fun, it raises a lot of money for good causes and I'm happy to be involved,' Cruz said. 'I wish a few more trainers had supported the club in what they are trying to do here.'