Health First is toast of Irish
By DECLAN MURPHY
MY heritage apart, I've become a very big fan of Irish imports over the time I've spent riding in Hong Kong and Macau.
And few involved in the racing industry out this way can match Peter Ng Bik-kuen when it comes to connections in Ireland or sorting out the wheat from the chaff and making the right purchases.
I heard a lot about a horse called Spring Force when I was over in Ireland during the summer, seeing a few relatives and keeping my eye on the form out there.
He is called Health First (Nap) in Hong Kong where, surprise, surprise, he has found his way into Peter Ng's yard.
His form in Ireland is really good as he is a Galway Festival winner and that takes some doing, even in the two-year-old maiden races.
By all accounts he has been given plenty of time to come to himself since arriving in the territory and has been pleasing in his trackwork.
It stands to reason that he will improve on whatever he achieves tonight as he is making his debut and is still a young three-year-old being asked to give weight to older horses.
But he could still be good enough and certainly looks one with a bright future.
He may have most to fear from those directly beneath him in the handicap, namely Happy Cheers and Zeus.
Happy Cheers ran well on his debut when forced to race wide from a bad barrier draw. He was also up on the pace throughout and given no respite.
In the circumstances he did well to stick on so gamely and hold Super Falcon for second behind good winner, Eastern Star.
Zeus is another Irish import who came here very handily rated in Class Three for my former trainer Geoff Lane.
I sat on him a few times last season and always had a bit of time for him. It came as no surprise when he won under a lovely rails ride from Dean McKeown last time and he must be given plenty of respect.
After all, he beat Eastern Star who then came out and beat Happy Cheers.
The only slight doubt is that he has been off the track for a while so he could go even better next time Out.