Classy Peony makes appeal
PEONY is betting material in the seventh event at Sha Tin this afternoon. Former multiple champion trainer John Moore nearly pulled off a coup with Gotcha, backed from 18-1 to 10-1 only to be run down close home at the New Territories' venue last weekend. Peony is a similar type to Gotcha in that he is a lightly raced, second-season griffin. However, he has always looked to have much more brilliance and will probably rise to a higher position in the official ratings scale in due course.
There has certainly been plenty to like about his last couple of runs. At the backend of last season he was unlucky to be caught on the line by Patrick Biancone's Aqua Princess in a griffin event over 1,235 metres at Happy Valley. That is a very funny distance for a griffin, taking much more staying than is generally appreciated and Peony just failed to see out the trip which lends itself to griffins that are going to need a mile rather than be sprinter-milers.
Peony then reappeared to put in a very encouraging effort down the straight 1,000-metre course in the race won by Mountain Champ. He was slowly away and took a while to find his feet over the first 200 metres by which time he was a good many lengths adrift of the leaders. But in the final 200 metres he really started to pick up and run, eventually finishing a creditable fifth, beaten just 31/4 lengths.
The run is sure to have sharpened him up both mentally and physically and he should appreciate the extra 200 metres this afternoon in an essentially uncompetitive event. With the run under his belt, he can be expected to reverse the form with Colour Picture who ran third to Mountain Champ. Anyway, Colour Picture has never been the most genuine of performers and could be the type to give his best running while fresh and can't be guaranteed to do likewise today.
Darryll Holland, who rides Colour Picture, has a mass of quinella chances throughout the afternoon's sport, not least Eastern Star in the fifth and Our Pal in the feature event, the National Panasonic Cup. But Eastern Star may have to settle for second best behind Star Of Marble who has progressed again in his work since his strong late run brought him a 11/4-length win from Shaka Zulu last time out.
Star Of Marble likes to come from off the pace to a degree, so the shorter straight won't help but the way he has worked since that win suggests he is a much improved this season. Our Pal has never worked better in his preparation for an intriguing and quality National Panasonic Cup.
He had no chance when trapped so wide in the Sha Tin Trophy and has worked in Rolls Royce fashion since then for Holland. He can't be left out of the quinellas but it could pay to take a chance on Ivan Allan's Sterling Town who was noted staying on in the manner of a future winner behind China Cruise over an inadequate 1,400 metres on his reappearance.
He has done plenty of work since then and done it nicely. The other three main hopes in this race appear to be Electric Flash, Bayview Boy and Innovation, in that order. Darren Gauci's great start to the season can continue with Supreme Monarch in the final event. He is worth taking in quinellas with Prince Baikal and Able Monarch both of whom have the form on the board and have worked sensationally since their last run.