BASIL Marcus is a certainty to land the jockeys' championship following the retirement of Tony Cruz, but he is determined to do it in style and struck yesterday with an 11-1 double at Sha Tin. The gritty South African does not take defeat kindly and fought to the bitter end last season before conceding the title to Cruz.
This time around he wants to leave nobody in any doubt - and judging by his continued determination that is just what will happen. 'It does make it a lot easier with Tony no longer riding, but I want to get as many as I can for my stable and my owners. 'I was happy to get the second one up today because we have not had too many runners from my stable and that was Ivan's (Allan) first winner for a while. It was a bit of a battle but we hung on,' said Marcus.
Marcus rode a neat race in the opening event - a very ordinary Class Six contest - to win with Happy Birthday (5-2), a regular ride. Betting on the 10-runner event was dominated by bottomweight All Smart Wins (2-1 favourite) and Happy Birthday, the only two in the race with any sort of worthwhile recent form. Marcus had Happy Birthday moving along well just better than midfield and ready to pounce when the field straightened for home in the longer sprint.
All Smart Wins did get to the front but was clearly there on sufferance and Marcus was upsides and away in a matter of strides inside the 200 metres. It was a clinical two-length win in a dire contest. Acquisition (9-2) has been something of an in-and-out performer but was solidly backed down from 8-1 to his opening quote and Marcus had him flying in front early.
This was a moderate Class Five, 1,600-metre event and the former champion jockey is at his most effective on poorer grade horses that require real riding. And Acquisition was left in no doubt that there was going to be no slacking and was kept right up to the mark as he finally saw off Flamme D'Or (7-1), who made a valiant attempt and Partner (8-1).