Lane smelling of roses after 50-1 Valley double
GEOFF Lane's season continued on its merry way with a 50-1 double at Happy Valley's final equitrack meeting of the season last night. The former Golden Boy of Australian racing took the opening race with the Tony Cruz-ridden 5-2 favourite Nickels King before sending out Rose Garden under Raymond S. M. Tam at 20-1 to upset the heavily-backed Win Tack in the fifth. Lane beamed: ''All my stable boys were telling me that Nickels King must win tonight as he had saddle cloth number seven.
''We've had a lot of winners with that number and it is also the number of my stable - after this I'm beginning to think there is something in it. ''I've also had plenty of luck when Tony has ridden for me - but then it isn't really luck, he's a super rider.'' Cruz challenged late on Nickels King to just catch the pace-setting Flowers World who was well ridden from the front by 10-pound claimer Simon ''Hong Kong'' Yim. There was a neck in it on the line.
Rose Garden was always travelling like a winner for Tam in the fifth as Winfield and Blue Baron set a fast pace. There was plenty of money in this event for Wong Tang-ping's Win Tack who had beaten just three horses home at his last four starts yet was third favourite on the strength of some much improved trackwork. The money looked to be spot on when Win Tack led at the top of the straight but he was stalked all the way by Rose Garden who swooped to win by 21/4 lengths. Solar Century, the 7-2 favourite, was never travelling well and could only plug on for third some 73/4 lengths adrift of the first two.
Lane went on: ''Rose Garden won in a fast time over course and distance last season and was pounds and pounds better in at the weights tonight so he definitely merited consideration''. Besides Lane, there were also doubles for Tony Cruz and John Moore. Cruz added the sixth race to his opening success with a typically polished display on Everwell Cheers for Ping. Ellen's Voyage and Super Win Boo set a suicidal pace, even by front-running equitrack standards, and they duly fell into a hole at the 200-metre marker.
Here Diablo looked dangerous but Cruz had them all in his sights and Everwell Cheers, reappearing after a break, came away to win by a comfortable 11/2 lengths. It was just deserts for Ping who, besides Flowers World in the opening event and Win Tack in the fifth, also had Top Performance run second in the third behind the remarkable Gagne Vite. The four-year-old had not won a race until three starts ago and here he was completing a hat-trick for trainer Chris Cheung Ting-pong and veteran local rider Raymond Tsui.
Moore's double came courtesy of Natural Colour in the Class Six second event and the progressive Amigo in the fourth. Natural Colour dominated some modest opposition though Golden Chance was hampered and unlucky not to run second rather than third. Moore booked Basil Marcus for Amigo with stable jockey Johnny Marshall engaged for Kwacha. The public made Amigo the favourite and they were not wrong. Marcus always had him travelling sweetly just off the speed and they shot through to win by an emphatic 31/4 lengths from equitrack specialist Local Colour who held Valiant Red for second.
The double took Moore to 35 winners and outright second in the standings but still 13 adrift of leader Ivan Allan. Bruce Hutchison enjoyed an overdue change of fortune when Muster Mark relished his first outing on the equitrack and a move up to 2,100 metres to take the final event under a copybook ride from Darren Gauci. The well-bought Irish import impressed as he put 21/4 lengths between himself and City Raider who had looked dangerous in the run.