Connoisseur's Pick can break through

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 March, 2012, 12:00am


Tempo and position are going to be the keys to today's Class Three feature at Sha Tin, the CUHK Alumni Cup (2,000m), and Connoisseur's Pick gives apprentice Ben So Tik-hung a chance to graduate in style.

So is perched on 69 career wins and needs just one more win to graduate to senior jockey ranks, and he has rides in the first three races so he may already have done it by the fourth.

But whether or not he is still looking for his graduation winner, Connoisseur's Pick gives So a great chance to take the cup race in any case.

Twice a mile winner in England as a younger horse, Connoisseur's Pick has looked more of a middle-distance type in his 13 starts with Peter Ho Leung.

Although he has yet to register a victory, the writing has been on the wall for several runs that he is getting close and a step up to the longest distance he has yet attempted could be all the difference.

In most of his runs, Connoisseur's Pick has got well back but Neil Callan has been more positive on him in his last two starts at Happy Valley, where he has run second to Ho Ho Life at 1,650m and then third to Easy Gold over 1,800m.

That latest effort was excellent after sitting wide on the track for much of the race, but the fact that he was able to lay up closer in those latest outings could prove vital this time.

Most of the runners are dedicated back runners or off-pace horses, with the most likely going forward Eagle Spirit (Matthew Chadwick), Enabling (Douglas Whyte) and the out-of-form Interchina Star, and a modest tempo looks the most likely set up.

Connoisseur's Pick is up a grade but, with So's allowance, drops from big weights at Happy Valley to just 109 pounds, so it seems logical to assume that more use will be made of him on those grounds alone.

That's where Ben So comes in. If he can use that light weight and can take note of Whyte's Derby-winning ride from a wide gate last week pushing forward on the first turn, he can put Connoisseur's Pick in a position to win the race.

The So-Ho combination has been in rare form lately so a Cup win to celebrate So's 'coming out' would be highly appropriate. One jockey who won't have to do a lot of thinking will be Tim Clark on likely favourite Cai Bao In from the Paul O'Sullivan yard.

The handy four-year-old made a good impression winning in Class Four at 1,600m and has been unable to win quickly in Class Three, but he hasn't done a lot wrong.

He worked to the line well for second to Real Specialist last time at 1,800m, looks like he will run out the 2,000m with no problem and only has to come out on terms to map in midfield, quite like three back on the fence.

Cai Bao In won't spend a penny in the run, his issue will only come when they turn for home and Clark has to find his way clear to finish the race off - if the race is only slowly run, the field may not break open for him.

Others with chances in a tricky affair include Owners' Glory (Brett Prebble), Enabling and Fun Heroes (Gerald Mosse), though the latter pair are having to give away considerable weight.


The number of winners Ben So has racked up, leaving him needing only one more to graduate to senior jockey ranks