'King of the Valley' Prebble to see off international challengers
Brett Prebble has had 10 years to think about running second in his only appearance at the Cathay Pacific International Jockeys' Championship (CXIJC), but the Australian holds the aces tonight at Happy Valley.
Jockey Club oddsmakers have pinned Prebble and Douglas Whyte as the dominant riders, despite the wide array of talent, and why not? In the past three calendar years, Prebble has ridden 102 winners at the city track and Whyte 99 - both double the next most successful riders at the quirky circuit.
But the rider is only as good as his horse and it was Prebble (pictured) who emerged from the draw on Monday with the best set of mounts and, if he can strike early, he may not even need all of them to sew up the contest. In past years, 22 points across three races has been enough to win all but the inaugural CXIJC, when Olivier Peslier landed the record 28 points. With the series expanded across four races this time, a score in the mid-twenties is going to be tough to beat and Prebble has raffled up one of the night's best in the third leg, Nordic Star for Derek Cruz.
Coming off an impressive last-start win in Class Four, Nordic Star takes a grade rise and a weight drop, and looks yet another stable transfer that Cruz has returned to his best form. That makes him nicely rated off 62 as the gelding has previously scored over the course off a mark of 64 in the grade.
The enigmatic duo of Medic Fortune for Paul O'Sullivan in the opening contest and 28-start maiden Classa for Peter Ho Leung in the second leg look the keys in Prebble's chase.
Both have been disappointing to say the least, but both indicated a return to form last time out and have drawn inside gates.
If Prebble can conjure a breakthrough win from either of them, and all goes to plan with Nordic Star, he's going to be carrying some serious points into the final leg of the series on Ho's promising four-year-old, The Untouchablelad.
Several jockeys have one standout ride but a lack of depth, but punters looking for a blow-out result could do worse than another locally-based rider, Howard Cheng Yue-tin, who looks hard to beat on Romancing Tamar and has a spoiler's chance in the final leg on lightly weighted Super Genki, a winner on this night two years ago.