Course, distance and gate - Treasure covers all bases

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 February, 2009, 12:00am

A step up in trip and the crucial advantage of an inside gate should make all the difference for the Caspar Fownes-trained Victory Treasure in the Volunteers' Challenge Cup (1,800m) at Happy Valley.

Fownes is consistently the man to beat when racing goes to the city venue and, while Victory Treasure (Zac Purton) may have finished only 10th at his latest outing, the trainer should be right to the fore in tonight's feature with the seven-year-old.

It has been a while between drinks for Victory Treasure, who last scored over 1,650m at the Valley in October 2006.

After some handy form early in the season, Victory Treasure had 21/2 months without a race before returning with an even effort at Sha Tin on New Year's Day, but his better form has been on tracks with more cushion than the surface that afternoon.

Returning to Happy Valley last time out, the gelding was well in commission over the Valley mile, but a wide gate mitigated against Christophe Soumillon being able to give him any sort of run.

Victory Treasure tried to get forward early but was stuck three wide in the breeze all the way around, eventually weakening out of the race won by Fluke.

Moving to gate one this time, Purton should be able to give Victory Treasure the run of the race behind likely leaders Billion and Nilometer before saving some energy for the part of the race that counts.

He has three wins over 1,800m and, with the blinkers off, the longer trip looks to be what the gelding is looking for now.

As for dangers, there are plenty of them.

Classic Reunion was on the verge of a red card from the John Moore stable when the season opened, but his form has been solid and his effort to finish third with a good weight last time over 1,650m pushed him up a grade for this task.

But the plus side is he will have only 114 pounds under Mark du Plessis and, if Du Plessis can get him across into any sort of position from his awkward draw, he gives every impression he can run out this trip.

Paul O'Sullivan has taken a claim with Derek Leung Ka-chun on Lhojong to offset his big weight and he is another likely to enjoy a comfortable trip from gate two.

He has been in terrific form since joining O'Sullivan this season and caught the eye last time out when he should have finished closer to Beautiful Choice.

Likewise, Something Special (Douglas Whyte) has had excuses at his past three starts, the latest behind Fluke. All he needs is some even luck and he, too, should be competitive in a tough trophy race.

Caspar Fownes (below) has an impressive winning strike rate at the city venue this term from 90 outings: 12%