Stage is set for Ride With The Wind
Ride With The Wind has been showing all the signs that he has a good race in him and the John Size-trained four-year-old looks ready to seize his moment in the Sa Sa Ladies' Purse (1,800m) today at Sha Tin.
A two-time winner from five runs in the UK as a young horse, Ride With The Wind (Douglas Whyte) wasn't ready to measure up when he made his local debut in the Derby Trial in February and finished 10th.
Size didn't persevere, sending Ride With The Wind for a gelding operation looking to the future instead, and that patient handling sees the son of Rock Of Gibraltar with the makings of a worthwhile middle-distance galloper.
Perhaps he was unheralded when he won impressively over 1,800m at the end of last season at Happy Valley, but there was no mistaking the quality of the performance and his return fresh showed him ready to go on with the job he started there.
Facing an odds-on favourite in Vaugirard, Ride With The Wind followed that horse throughout a 1,650m trophy event at the Valley before finishing second.
Vaugirard was too sharp in running and at the finish, but the Size-trained horse didn't shirk the task at any stage, despite conceding weight to the winner.
Better for the outing and a subsequent trial, Ride With The Wind looks right at the top of his game for this event over a distance that will suit him better. He will also meet Vaugirard nine pounds better for that defeat.
The pace looks a question mark, with the John Moore-trained Mighty High (Jeff Lloyd) capable of taking up the running, as is the Derek Cruz-trained Carthage, but a strong pace looks unlikely.
Despite the weight turnaround and an extra 150m, the David Hall-trained Vaugirard (Brett Prebble) still remains a tough nut to crack, especially given that he will likely be in front of Ride With The Wind again.
Since blinkers were applied earlier this year, Vaugirard has been a transformed horse with eight starts for four wins, three seconds and a third. He found the line with plenty of running at Happy Valley and has done the same at Sha Tin over 1,600m, so the additional distance may not turn out to be an issue for the five-year-old.
Mighty High also commands plenty of respect on what he has shown in a brief career, but the edge is with the race fitness of Ride With The Wind and Vaugirard.
Climbing up the ladder
Ride With The Wind arrived on a mark of 92 after winning two races in the UK. His current rating is: 100