French flair keeps Eric in the hunt
ARC de Triomphe-winning rider Eric Saint-Martin only came for a holiday, but it seems he has been here ever since. His presence has been mutually beneficial to everyone concerned with racing, save for a wayward performance on Tim's Joy when he was lucky to escape censure for the interference caused to Jade Age down the back straight. He successfully stepped into the breach for trainer Brian Kan Ping-chee when Felix Coetzee was injured. He then substituted in dashing style for Eric Legrix for the Patrick Biancone stable and has ridden some dream races. His performance on You Bet in the Kukri Trophy was copybook stuff, delaying his challenge until the last possible moment before running down Quick Action. This season Saint-Martin, successful on the Hong Kong-owned Urban Sea in the Arc de Triomphe before last, has been here on a visiting Club Jockey's licence.
Unfortunately, after a quick-fire start to the season, he badly injured his back, missed six weeks and has only just returned to the fray. But he has learned much from riding Hong Kong style and, but for that Tim's Joy-Jade Age incident and an injudicious performance on Mr Judge first time out, the story has been one superb ride followed by another. He has certainly adapted extremely well to the demands of racing out here and ranks alongside any of the expatriates. He has also returned from injury even more determined than ever, as he showed when taking the Remy XO Cup on Makarpura Star and with another quite brilliant display on Geoff Lane's Feodor on Wednesday night. Saint-Martin is patient, he is cool.
He settles and balances a horse well on that long European rein, but he is also very competitive and much stronger in a finish than is at once evident from the stands. Nor does he want to go home. Earlier this week Saint-Martin went in to talk to the Jockey Club's director of racing, Philip Johnston, about a possible extension to his licence which expires at the end of next month. Johnston said that there are not any positions open at the moment, informing Saint-Martin that the best thing to do is to put his name down as a replacement should any one of those due to come - Alan Munro, Walter Swinburn, Greg Childs and Lance O'Sullivan - be unable to fulfil their commitments.
In the meantime, there are more winners to be ridden and Saint-Martin may just have put one of them through his paces yesterday morning. Tony P. H. Chan's King Chariot is the horse in question. He has now had three runs back and should be fully fit next time out. Yesterday he looked on good terms with himself as Saint-Martin took him through a solid 800 metres and he could well be one to note in a mile equitrack event next week. There was also good work yesterday from Lam Hung-fie's Real Perfect who caught the eye in running last time and also has an equitrack engagement next week.
David Oughton's pair of Gay Pegasus II and Gay Centurion are improving, as their work indicated yesterday. The only trial yesterday went to Peter Tse Yan-sid's Gold Concept with Star Of Marble running a good second and Super Shine a promising third for his new trainer, Stephen Leung.