Holland has a new Pal
LEADING jockey Darryll Holland has again received a call-up from trainer Derek Cruz who has booked the English ace for the important ride on topweight Our Pal in the featured National Panasonic Cup at Sha Tin today. Holland takes over from Tony Cruz on the one-time Derby favourite and will be hoping to ride another winner for the trainer who put him up on Allegresse last week with a winning result.
Tony Cruz will partner Nervous Witness for John Moore who looks likely to supply the favourite in the race in Victory And Glory to be ridden by Brian York. But there will be plenty of attention focused on Our Pal who was caught wide and ran on fairly at his last start over 1,600 metres and will be suited by the step up in distance to 1,900 metres for today's big sponsored race.
Tony Cruz has never had much luck with Our Pal and that continued last time so it is no surprise to see Holland given a chance here - and the former British champion apprentice will grab it with both hands. Our Pal's last run was a good one for a seasonal debut and he is sure to derive benefit from it. But Victory And Glory is still the one to beat here.
Trainer Moore did a mighty job with the horse last time when he started it first-up over 2,200 metres and watched the gelding finish a battling second to Concert Boss. He was giving away lumps of weight and it was little wonder that Moore was enthusing after the race about the upcoming International Vase over 2,400 metres. 'That is the aim for him and the way he ran today should make him a valid contender,' he said.
Victory And Glory did a great job under York last time and will have come out of the run so much better for it.
Victory And Glory does have genuine International claims but he will have to win this race to give his rating a sufficient boost to virtually guarantee selection. He has always been a tough and genuine customer over the right trips and he will relish today's journey. Trainer Peter Ng Bik-kuen has secured the services of Mick Kinane for Smiling.
The Irish champion finished fourth in last season's Derby on the gelding which he also rode twice in Ireland before export so he certainly knows the horse well enough. Smiling had little luck in the Derby or he would have made it tight for Super Fit on the day but he has come on quite a lot and will be rock hard and ready for this after two earlier runs this season. Last time out he ran pleasingly for Darren Gauci over 1,800 metres and looked as if the run would have done him good.
Gauci is declared for regular ride Bayview Boy and if the horse did run out 1,900 metres he would be some sort of a threat. He was ridden last time out by Rambo Tse Wai-ho and finished on very stoutly over 1,600 metres in a run that strongly suggested more could be expected this time round. The only form for Bayview Boy over this trip is not encouraging and there must be serious reservations about him running it out strongly.
But he is certainly fit and ready. Northern Fire Ball was a last start winner for Julie Krone and top French rider Eric Legrix takes over. The horse has drawn out in barrier 13 and the 1,900-metre start is notoriously tricky as it leads straight into the first bend at Sha Tin with the result that wide draws are inclined to suffer badly. Champion trainer Ivan Allan's Sterling Town has had the benefit of one run and he ran on well over 1,400-metre for Frankie F. C. Lor.
Basil Marcus now takes over and Sterling Town should be given very real consideration here. Another French star, Gerald Mosse, makes his eagerly awaited seasonal debut for retaining trainer Lawrie Fownes and will partner Enthusiasm in this Class One event. Enthusiasm was ridden by Gauci last time and went off at 7-2 in a competitive mile event where he finished fifth, just over two lengths from the winner.
It was a fair run but he would have to show considerable improvement to be right there at the finish. Fortune Duke, to be ridden by a third French rider in Eric Saint-Martin, has drawn the extreme outside and will carry 124 pounds. In normal terms it is not an awesome burden but Fortune Duke has always been at his very best when carrying very little and a combination of these factors should stop him winning here.
Wonderful World ran a much better race last time over 2,200 metres but will be ridden by maximum claimer Y. S. Wong for Allan. The weight relief will be considerable and the horse is not out of it - not least because he is a confirmed front-runner which makes it an easier proposition for a relatively inexperienced claimer. As he finished third last time to Concert Boss and was only a length behind Victory And Glory it does make him worth considering.