Improving Ever Joy to enhance Derby claims
By ROBIN PARKE
AUSTRALIAN import Ever Joy brightened up a recent Sha Tin night meeting with a classy display that left trainer John Moore thinking in terms of a Derby start next February.
Further success in the second event on the final programme of the season would certainly send Ever Joy's connections off on the summer holidays safe in the knowledge that they do have a particularly useful galloper.
The manner in which he quickened up for John Marshall last time and came cleanly away from a field that included evens favourite Pasha underlined the fairly widely held view that Ever Joy is a bit special.
He came from Australia with something of a reputation but clearly needed his first couple of runs to bring him on. And the decision last time to step him up to a mile was clearly the right one.
Ever Joy, who came from near the rear of a small field, hit top gear in the concluding stages and left the rest of them flat-footed. Lucky Money, a reasonable type, took second but, like the remainder of the field, was never a real factor.
Ever Joy has continued to work in good fashion and Moore has elected to give him this last day start which should ensure two wins on the bounce for the three-year-old.
Given the authority of his last win and his Australian credentials, there is little doubt that Ever Joy will return in his four-year-old year as a mature individual and still with considerable scope for improvement.
If there was ante-post betting on the Hong Kong Derby and a ''summer'' favourite, Ever Joy would definitely be right up there at the top of the market.
He is clearly the one horse in the field with exposed form who clearly has plenty of scope for improvement. And there is rather a tired look to the rest of them with the exception of the Geoff Lane-trained debutant, Catalan Gold.
The three-year-old New Zealand import will be ridden by Basil Marcus and should be included in quinellas. There are good reports about him and he has certainly been working along in a style that suggests he is not going out today to have a look around.
Lucky Express must have quinella and tierce claims on his last effort where he beat home Good As Gold and Winner's Special. The form has not exactly held up but Lucky Express may still have a good run in him at this final stage of the campaign.
The other clear chance is Long March, although this represents a stiff rise in class. But he is fairly fresh, fit and in form.