Lightly raced Athenium gunning to double up
Athenium gets his first crack at a middle distance in the Members Cup (1,800m) at Sha Tin today and that should make the Sean Woods-trained four-year-old the horse to beat in the day's feature.
Lightly raced in Australia as a three-year-old and in three runs here, Athenium (Olivier Doleuze) has always looked a horse who will appreciate some distance and has the turn of foot that can separate the above average stayer from the crowd.
After a promising start to his Hong Kong career early in the season, Athenium suffered a setback with a bleeding attack in January and Woods was forced to give him a break.
Returning on June 6, Athenium justified some good market support to win over 1,600m, turning in a sharp sprint for a sub-23 second sectional. There were no fancy margins there, and Athenium has slipped up in the weights from 122 pounds to 126. However, there is every reason to think he can improve for his first run in five months to make up for that rise.
If there was a silver lining to that bleeding attack, it has meant that Athenium comes into this race with fresh legs, too, while his rivals have largely been ploughing away all season.
As far as the 1,800m is concerned, Athenium is by a Victoria Derby winner in Arena and his racing style suggests the pattern of 1,800m racing will suit.
Despite gate nine, Athenium has a few moderate beginners under him and it would surprise if Doleuze isn't able to get a spot with cover in midfield, poised to unleash that sharp sprint the colt possesses.
The tempo should be sound enough to let the run-ons have their say, with Power Drifter, Fat Dragon and Young Hero all forward runners and that should give the David Ferraris-trained Monte Cristo (Weichong Marwing) claims in the race.
He has not won this season and has been creeping down the ratings, despite some worthwhile efforts - running on well in similar races.
Caspar Fownes has called on Brett Prebble for another top chance, Majestic Heart, who last had the championship leader on board when he won in November. The five-year-old is notoriously risky at the jump, but worked home well with the tempo against him over 1,600m last time and will be right in the finish if Prebble gets him out cleanly.
Sean Woods and Olivier Doleuze have combined 74 times this term for a winning strike rate of: 11%