Trialled and tested: Vanquish Delight to conquer Valley
A barrier trial and a good draw should see the Caspar Fownes-trained Vanquish Delight bounce back to his real form and win the Hong Kong Golf Club Centenary Cup (1,800m) at Happy Valley tonight.
Vanquish Delight (Jacky Tong Chi-kit) looked a late maturing young stayer with some upside at the end of last season, culminating in an easy 2,200m win at the Valley, but he was anything but promising when he resumed.
Box-seated over 1,600m at Sha Tin on National Day, the four-year-old ran the worst race of his life in simply dropping to last in the run down the straight and there were few clues from the vets or the stewards.
But Fownes took him to the all-weather trials at Sha Tin last Friday for a considerably better performance that suggested whatever was wrong on day one of his racing season was in the past.
He finished second to Pretty Touch but his rider, Greg Cheyne, did enough on him without bottoming Vanquish Delight out. It was a nice pointer to the Valley tonight.
Drawn in gate one on the 'B' course, Vanquish Delight should be getting the same box-seat kind of trail on the fence again, while a number of other runners squabble over the lead.
Fownes is never to be undersold in trophy events at the Valley and, with only 114 pounds on his back, Vanquish Delight will be strong when others are fading.
The main dangers in an open event look to be veteran Dashing Thunder (Eddie Lai Wai-ming), who was back to form in winning last start at Sha Tin, Douglas Whyte's mount Warm Embraces and the Tony Cruz-trained Royal Pegasus (Way Leung Ming-wai).
With a number of runners looking to go forward, that should ensure a proper tempo, and horses like Dashing Thunder and Warm Embraces look to be suited, despite being in the outside half of the draw.
Royal Pegasus did a power of work first time out when he won over this course for Matthew Chadwick, but the leading trainer has given Leung a great chance to score a trophy win.
Royal Pegasus is not as well weighted, but he does have a draw and shouldn't have to work so hard early.
Caspar Fownes (pictured with Jacky Tong) dominated the Valley last season with an impressive winning strike of : 16%