St Fevre can come up trumps against seasoned opposition
Three-year-olds against the tough seasoned competitors of the better grades are often a trap, but the Tony Cruz-trained youngster St Fevre can prove to be the exception to the rule in tonight's Hip Wo Handicap (1,000m) at Happy Valley.
The extended Class Two feature sees some well exposed but competent gallopers and that is no small matter for a young horse with only five previous race starts in his life, and only the one as a three-year-old.
That Class Two outing turned into a complete mess in November over 1,400m when St Fevre engaged in a suicidal speed duel and dropped out to last, pulling up with blood in his trachea after the strenuous effort. Since then, St Fevre (Mathew Chadwick) has been gelded, had a short rest and showed in his barrier trial win on January 12 against a good measuring stick in Able Speed that he will be a better proposition now.
Key to his prospects, too, will be the extra few months of physical development he has had. Early three-year-olds, who are often still only two in real time, taking on older horses is definitely a difficult ask, even in lower grades than Class Two.
Yet the southern hemisphere-bred St Fevre comes in now as an autumn three-year-old in that part of the world, and that is traditionally a time when they start to come into their own against the older horses.
With so much pace, St Fevre should get the chance to sit behind the speedsters from gate four and finish the race off under 113 pounds.
The obvious danger is the Gary Ng Ting-keung-trained mare, Sweet Sanette (Greg Cheyne), who arrived from South Africa with four wins from seven starts, and has gone on with it in an environment in which females have not usually blossomed.
She was the first female since Regal Thrills, in September 2006, to win when she scored at Sha Tin and it is considerably longer since any female won at Happy Valley.
But her win was full of authority, she plummets in the weights and will prove the one St Fevre has to beat - provided she can get around turns.
Sweet Sanette raced only on straight courses, both in South Africa and in Hong Kong, and has had only one barrier trial, also up the Sha Tin straight.
Tony Cruz and Matthew Chadwick have been a deadly combination at the city course this term, boasting an impressive winning strike rate of: 15%