FOR those who saw Citadeed breeze through a Happy Valley trial two months ago, there will be little concern about the Belmont Stakes third placegetter returning to the city track on more serious business tonight. Citadeed tackles the Classes One and Two fourth event with either champion jockey Basil Marcus or claimer Stanley K. M. Chin aboard. Clearly not an ideal situation for off-course punters, but one brought about by the timing of the Marcus appeal with the South African knowing his fate just hours before Citadeed steps out.
Citadeed has had two runs in Hong Kong, one over an unsuitable 1,200 metres at Sha Tin when he could not get near tearaway winner Hong Kong Supreme and the other in the Derby when, as feared, he was not ready. Trainer Ivan Allan had made no bones about the problems facing the horse he once owned before selling him to Jockey Club steward, Alan Li Fook-sum.
It was always going to be a tight schedule to get him ready for the Derby and, come the day, he was not as forward as they would have wished. The Derby was run on February 25 and the intervening six weeks or so have made a world of difference to Citadeed who has been fairly bouncing in his work and will be ready for action tonight.
While 1,650 metres would be on the short side for Citadeed whose optimum trips would be 2,000 metres and above, he may just be able to get away with this one, particularly as he has previously had a pleasant little hack around the city track. That Citadeed has the class really goes without saying. He had some excellent English form before export to America, but it takes a decent horse to run well in the Kentucky Derby and follow that up with a Triple Crown placing.
Citadeed is well drawn for the tricky 1,650-metre start and will be surely poised for a worthwhile challenge in the straight. Citadeed definitely can win, but if he does not, he should have shown Hong Kong racegoers for the first time the quality that he possesses. It is not so easy to be as confident about Irish 2,000 Guineas runner-up, Adjareli.
He reverts to a mile after an ordinary run in the Derby and champion trainer John Moore has secured the services of visiting club jockey, Eric Saint-Martin. Adjareli ran in blinkers prior to the Derby and finished a good third in the Classic Trial, but did not excite at all in the Blue Riband event. He did run keenly in the blinkers in the 1,600-metre Trial and Moore has decided against a replacement of the aid for tonight's run.
There were not many complimentary comments out of Ireland about Adjareli and they certainly seemed justified when the horse ran abysmally on the equitrack in two trials. But he does move like a very good horse in his work on the grass and it must be a case of the jury still being out on this one. However, over a mile tonight a prominent showing would have to be expected, particularly as Adjareli must be considered fit and fairly well attuned to local conditions.
He is badly drawn at this start, but punters are basically in a dilemma anyway. It could pay to oppose him as there will probably be meagre enough odds available.
The Patrick Biancone-trained Time Strong has run extremely well at Happy Valley in the past and looks in tip-top condition. He has been an excellent worker and can easily give a sight for Eric Legrix. Greg Childs partners Equine Supremo who is a long way from being out of this 13-runner contest. Again, the horse has been working most attractively and on his best form merits the closest of attention.