Fortune starts to smile on Olympic Stables

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 September, 2010, 12:00am

It is still a bit early to be doing victory laps and consigning the modest year-one showing down at the Olympic Stables to the dustbin, but at least the right signs are out there.

After seven meetings last year, David Ferraris had one win from 45 runners, Sean Woods one from 37, Andreas Schutz two from 31 and Michael Chang Chun-wai two from 22.

Ultimately, though Woods finished with a rattling run to finish with 28 wins and one of his better seasons and Chang posted his best result with 23 winners, the flashy new Olympic Stables turned out to be one of the surprise negative stories of the season.

In the wash-up Schutz won 11 races, failing to meet the Jockey Club performance benchmark, and Ferraris won only 20 races in the worst of the South African's seven seasons here. It was a blow, considering the Olympic Stables were assumed to be leading-edge facilities, much newer and better than the stables at the other end of Sha Tin.

This time Schutz, Ferraris and Woods have all had fewer runners for more winners, while Chang has had one more starter for one less winner, but the overall picture across almost exactly the same number of races, up to and including meeting seven, is looking healthier.

And the body language is certainly a lot better.

Woods has spoken highly of changes by the Jockey Club - after consultation with the trainers - to open a new trotting ring for the Olympic Stables and Ferraris was waxing lyrical about the 'winds of change' after this third win of the new term on Sunday.

All of which is cause for thanks, as having four trainers corralled in a situation that might have dulled their competitiveness - or to have them in a situation even suspected of doing that - does nobody any favours. (Especially with much bigger changes and logistical challenges on the distant horizon when training begins out of Congha across the border in Guangzhou). But the season does have a particularly different look this year, anyway.

After seven meetings in 2009, the usual fast beginners in John Moore and Tony Cruz already had seven and eight wins on the board respectively.

Last year, Moore had already had nearly twice as many runners as this term and it was enlightening to hear his explanation on Sunday: that the short break, the withdrawal period of post-season steroid treatment and building work on the new semaphore screen affecting the training tracks has had a bearing on his early-season impact.

It is only reasonable to expect that those factors have made a difference to other trainers, too, and left a vacuum to be filled.

Nevertheless, the black and white is that a good start is a good start and we can hope that all four trainers enjoy the kind of positive results that were originally expected from having shifted to the new stable complex last year.