Magic Chariot finally gets the luck of the draw
The Happy Valley wheel of fortune has finally turned the way of honest Magic Chariot, and the Michael Chang Chun-wai-trained gelding has his chance to get back into the winner's circle tonight in the Chinese General Chamber Of Commerce Cup (1,000m).
The C+3 rail at the Valley invariably favours those drawn low, and Magic Chariot (Zac Purton) will welcome the chance to start from barrier three after putting up with tough gates at his first two starts this season.
Both runs have been excellent with Magic Chariot finishing brilliantly first-up for third to Diamond Supreme over this course and distance in October, then again finding the line well for third behind Hongkong Superstar last time out.
But his barriers on each occasion - 12 and 10 respectively - have left Purton with little option but to drift back as far as necessary in the early stages to be able to find a comfortable run closer to the fence, rather than risk being caught wide.
He has then had to take the sprinter wide on straightening to issue his challenge, a recipe that invariably leaves a horse with plenty to do in the run home.
Tonight the luck of the draw has, literally, gone Magic Chariot's way and, from gate three, he should be able to take up a better position without having to navigate back.
These 1,000m races at the Valley are rarely run anything but quickly and this promises to be a well-run affair again with some quick forward runners in Har Har Charms (Douglas Whyte), Lucky Winner (Eric Saint-Martin), Classic Navigator (Darren Beadman) drawn towards the inside and a number of other on-pacers in the field as well.
That will suit Magic Chariot, who sits back off the pace as a general rule anyway, but the better gate should see him turn for home in a much better striking position to finish the race off.
Though he has only won up the Sha Tin straight, Magic Chariot has left no room for doubt he is just as adept at Happy Valley with the right run.
Whyte reported after Har Har Charms' last run behind Diamond Supreme that the John Size-trained gelding was feeling his legs when he shortened stride quickly after leading.
The sprinter has developed into something of a course specialist during the past year, Whyte sticks with him and it may pay to overlook that last effort and assess him on his first-up win at the track.
Gary Ng Ting-keung continues to do a fine job with patched-up horses, and Classic Navigator did nothing wrong behind Hongkong Superstar last time out in finishing second.
Given a nice trip behind the speed from gate five, the seven-year-old kept boxing on strongly to the line, and he also has the luxury of a low draw in gate two.
The coveted gate one has gone to David Hall's first starter, Power Return (Brett Prebble), who was heavily backed before winning his only run in Australia stylishly.
Magic Chariot has been a good servant for Michael Chang's yard, winning prize money of more than: HK$1.4m
The number of wins Michael Chang, who is 15th in the trainers' table, has this season: 5