Tonight's the night as Sapelli ready to reward his fans

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 February, 2010, 12:00am

To all those punters who have faithfully pinned their hopes to Sapelli in recent weeks, fear not - tonight's the night in the Rotary Centenary Challenge Cup (1,650m) at Happy Valley.

The John Size-trained four-year-old has met with extraordinary support at the betting windows in recent outings for a horse who has won only one race from his 13 starts, setting off as the outright public favourite in his past three starts.

Although unable to justify that backing on each occasion, Sapelli (Douglas Whyte) has nevertheless raced well and the feature shapes to give him the right recipe, despite drawing wide at the barrier.

Two runs ago, Sapelli had a nice trip through his race won by Green Jacket, but became snookered behind a weakening runner rounding the home turn. His solid finish when clear to finish a close fourth was not the result his backers at $23 wanted to see, but there was nonetheless plenty of merit in the run.

Last time out, Whyte was at pains early to steady the gelding and look for a position in midfield, but he was cut out of that option at the winning post the first time and drifted further back, and that proved a problem when the pace slackened sharply after a fairly brief flurry for the lead.

Sapelli got a touch keen and all the way back to last before running on in the leader-dominated race behind Flying In. The Jockey Club's sectional times show he closed the race off better than any runner.

From gate 10, Whyte will probably again play a waiting game and retreat early, but with Easy Ahead, Strawberry, Happy Seven, Grand Dancer and Super Caga all looking for forward positions early, a truer pace may ensue.

The David Ferraris-trained Supernova (Zac Purton) would be another to benefit from a better tempo. Punters should forget his last run when he was checked back to near last in a slowly-run race.

He won a similar trophy race at his previous outing in November when able to position up midfield, and from gate two, he should get a nice run.

Of those on the pace, Happy Seven (Brett Prebble) led all the way two runs back - as he had done in three New Zealand wins - but showed at Sha Tin last start that he can also sit behind when he ran out a convincing winner again.

Douglas Whyte and John Size have teamed up 24 times at the city course for a winning strike rate of: 4%