THE in-form David Oughton and Mick Kinane can strike yet again this evening by taking the second event on the Happy Valley grass with the improving young stayer, Will It Figure.
As usual with these low-grade distance events there are not too many chances as precious few horses in Hong Kong can get beyond a mile. In the bowels of the handicap scale this is even more the case. Will It Figure has always shaped as if more than capable of scoring in Class Five and last time he put in his best run to date when staying on strongly to finish fourth to Better Choice in a Classes Four and Five contest over tonight's 2,200-metre course and distance.
Will It Figure was beaten just 11/4 lengths in that race which was much harder than this evening's affair. The first five pulled a long way clear of the remaining eight runners which suggests the form is solid. The selection also slipped in running last time which, while it did not stop him winning, did cost him some ground.
Prior to that, Will It Figure had appeared to have improved in his work. He was showing a bit more zest and the right race has finally come round. 'He is improving a little and that last run did show that there is a race to be won with him,' said Oughton who has his team in tremendous form.
The Derby-winning English handler has a yard packed full of talented young horses which he has brought along with great skill and patience and he is a long way down the road to extracting his team's full potential. Oughton is the first to admit that having such a world-class jockey as the 10-time Irish champion Kinane is a significant part of his success.
'He's my greatest asset,' Oughton said in the aftermath of Che Sara Sara's Derby triumph. There have been any number of brilliant rides from Kinane of late but his win on Emphasis on Saturday night's Grand National card underlined that as far as Hong Kong racing goes the most important part of the betting equation is the man on top.
From the moment the horses jumped, to the time Emphasis crossed the line, Kinane didn't just do everything right, he did it perfectly. To begin with he managed to get his inexperienced mount smartly out of the barriers and across to racing on the fence behind the leader, V-Ming.
In the process he managed to avoid V-Ming who raced erratically going into the first bend. He then took a lovely sit as the pace slowed and, aware of the lack of pace and the track bias to those on the speed, kicked for home coming off the bottom corner, effectively winning the race there and then as the short straight was in operation.
For good measure he eased down Emphasis in the final 50 metres so that he only had to do the barest minimum. Rides like this are why Kinane's mounts go so well and one of the reasons why Figure it Out is sure to be given every possible opportunity from barrier three. Threats may be posed by Alacrity, who is blinkered for the first time, and from Allez Au Bon. Alacrity is stepping up in distance and it seems a strange thing to do, to apply blinkers for the first time and move up to 2,200 metres.
But Alacrity has worked and trialled much better in the blinkers and it is more than worth taking a chance on his ability to run out the trip. He has not worked too freely in the blinkers so it should not be a question of him refusing to settle for Darryll Holland who, anyway, has lovely hands and rarely does anything refuse to settle for him.
Allez Au Bon is closely handicapped with Will It Figure on their running behind Better Choice and has worked most impressively since for trainer Derek Cruz who now has his team firing on all cylinders. There is plenty of stamina in the bottom line of I'm A Ripper's pedigree as his dam won three times from 2,000 to 2,200 metres. He also returned to form last time and is well handicapped. Rabbit Bo Bo will run out the trip and is another to consider.