TRAINER Patrick Biancone has aimed rising star Deauville straight at the big guns of local racing in the National Panasonic Cup at Sha Tin today. With racing making an overdue and eagerly awaited return to the grass, the clash of the truly exciting Deauville and some of the game's established staying stars is clearly the highlight of the nine-event card. And this will be a real test of Deauville's class and character because he is eight pounds out of the handicap in this 11-runner event. It is obviously a clear indication of just how highly Biancone rates Deauville that he puts him into this important sponsored event at disadvantageous terms. Racing out of the handicap at any time is rarely a recommended policy, but to do so against proven stars like topweight Survey King is cause for some head-scratching.
Deauville won a legion of new admirers when he saw off Timah two weeks ago and those who really appreciate good horses had no reason to doubt that here was one to join those under subscribed ranks. However, the quality of the beaten field has to come in for some consideration and it bears little resemblance to the horses Deauville will tangle with today - and at a handicapping disadvantage. Biancone has logically lightened that disparity by putting up champion apprentice Simon H. K. Yim so that with his claim, the final out-of-handicap assessment is five pounds. Possibly not a lot, but remember the company Deauville is keeping today. All that said, there will be an army of punters prepared to back Biancone's stable star and we are set for a truly intriguing race.
I personally believe Deauville is superstar material in Hong Kong and, given time and natural development, could emerge as a potential winner abroad and really fly the flag for local racing. That Deauville has the class is not in doubt. And Biancone, honed on the traditions of racing in Europe, will point out that the colt is only a little over two months short of his official fourth birthday. At that age they are tackling the best there is in Europe, so why not here? What cannot also be in dispute is that Deauville has thrived since his defeat of Timah a fortnight back. He has been an out-and-out track star and Biancone is a past master at getting the very best out of his best horses.
So impressive has he been that the French trainer has opted for this race - and an early date with destiny for Deauville. Three other horses in the field have been going well in the mornings and their claims can be entertained. Deerfield has rarely looked better and will be seen to real advantage with Greg Childs up while Super Fit gives Club jockey Jimmy Fortune a chance to show his talents at the higher level. Super Fit, a former Derby winner, could scarcely have been more impressive in hacking up in a recent all-weather trial by eight lengths.
Jade Age has been burning up the track and looks another quality performer - something he hinted at last year. Surprisingly, champion jockey Tony Cruz finds himself on the sidelines for the big race of the day, having been replaced on Survey King by South African visitor, Piere Strydom.