Starbuck is ready to hit the heights at the Valley
By ROBIN PARKE
TRAINER David Oughton's progressive stayer Starbuck should not let Double Trio punters down if taken as the banker for the first leg of the exotic bet at Happy Valley's only day meeting of the season tomorrow.
Starbuck has the happy advantage of winning well at the city course previously and has absolutely no aversion to the tight turns that are a feature of the track. On top of that, he remains in Class Three a horse whose best form lines put him already in good Class Two company so he is the logical choice to carry the hopes of Double Trio fans. The 1,800 metres of the event which is a conditions race for local riders, is also ideal for the costly New Zealand-bred import who should win this and continue his climb up the ratings. Hard-working Rambo Tse Wai-ho, who does plenty of work for Oughton, gets the ride and should make the most of the chance.
Opposition to the selection can come from two horses involved here - topweight Cricket Lord, already a Class Two galloper, and another potential rising star in Gladstonian. Cricket Lord got up very close home under a forceful ride from Gerald Mosse last time and it tended to confirm hopes that the Lawrie Fownes-trained stayer was destined for bigger things. But he did enjoy a fortunate split close home to get through otherwise he might well have had to settle for a minor end of the prize. Be that as it may, he is up to winning a Class Three race under a burden of 136 lb.
Gladstonian is another one who likes Happy Valley and he does hold a verdict over Stellar Express on the course. That is form in the purple and his last run over 2,000 metres at Sha Tin saw him finish a close second to Manley's Star. Despite his efforts there - and they were commendable - Gladstonian may still be better with this run under his belt although he must be taken as a DT leg. The other chance could be bottomweight America Supreme who won handily for Darryll Holland last time out and will now be ridden by claimer Ricky C.K. Chung.
The second leg of the DT is a modest Class Six contest over 1,800 metres and preference here is for topweight Jungle Deer who has been working well and can run in the frame. Jungle Deer is a Class Five horse competing on the overlap and is marginally good enough to run in the frame. French jockey Eric Saint-Martin has the ride for Wyllie Wong Wai-lit who struck on Wednesday night with Upper Hand in the opener.
Smart Boy and Treasure King could be best of the rest but it might be worth tossing in Say Yes for some value.