Stable jockey Mick Kinane is reunited with the David Oughton-trained Legitimate at Sha Tin today and the Irishman can send punters home on a winning note. Handy stayer Legitimate has been ridden by Philip Robinson, Wendyll Woods and John Murtagh in his three outings to date this season but Kinane looks to be getting aboard at just the right moment. The 1,800-metre nightcap for Classes One and Two looks an ideal race for Legitimate who can open his winning account and keep Kinane's good recent run going strongly. The five-year-old Last Tycoon gelding has had plenty of time to get over his exertions in the 2,200-metre Benson Cup in which he ran most pleasingly in a race where he was expected - off his rating - to be outclassed. He did finish just over eight lengths off Privilege and Deauville in the Open class event, but he had other better credentialled runners behind him and, in the circumstances, it was an excellent effort.
There's nothing of the calibre of Privilege in today's field and Legitimate worked like a future winner last week, underlining that he is in fine fettle. On his overall form, Legitimate is entitled to the utmost respect as he scored over this trip last year for Kinane and ran a creditable final race of the campaign in top company. He ran encouragingly for Woods at his second start of this season when finishing third to stablemate Mazal over 2,000 metres at Sha Tin in what was a similar race to this.
In fact, Sky Coast, who re-opposes here, was second to Mazal but will find it hard to confirm form at a definite weight disadvantage. Equine Supremo also finished adrift of Legitimate in that run behind Mazal and seems to have even less chance of reversing placings as he is probably better suited to longer. The one to watch is the Tony Cruz-trained Smiling who is also coming closer to a win.
He was a fair fourth last time behind Coach Maniac in a hot contest and has been going well since. Eric Saint-Martin has the riding duties and the duo appear to have top quinella prospects. Seven Glory also merits respect now that he is stepped back up to today's trip which is more in his favour. He scored course and distance two starts back with a claimer aboard and he has generally run well when apprentice-ridden. Trainer Stephen Leung has engaged excellent apprentice Peter W. L. Ho and Seven Glory looks certain to give a real account of himself.
He is a definite quinella and tierce proposition in a race where there are few form chances. There is usually a race for any horse in Hong Kong that stays sound and has some ability and that may well be the case with maiden Mashooq in the fifth event today. The five-year-old contests this modest Class Six event over 1,400 metres and he did finish third, course and distance, to Cambridge Success at his last start. Finding form horses in Class Six is no easy task and Mashooq, to that extent, does measure up. The gelding has limited ability, but it may just be enough to see him home in this 14-runner field. Trainer Lawrie Fownes and jockey Wendyll Woods enjoyed a good start to the New Year with Winningcombination on Wednesday having also been bang on target last Sunday.
These are good times for the stable and a win with Mashooq would certainly please the trainer who has done his best with the galloper over the past few seasons. Interestingly, the same stable has the topweight in Add Some but he has been disappointing and has reached Class Six relatively quickly. There is not much hope for most of this field, but one who could show up and is worth a quinella or tierce investment is Power Protection. Like a number of these he has had problems and has not been sighted since early in the season when a fair third over 1,600 metres under Eric Saint-Martin.
He has been working fairly and is well drawn in barrier two as Power Protection likes to bowl along on the pace. Claimer Raymond S. M. Tam has the ride for trainer Tony P. H. Chan and the apprentice has had a fair season to date.
Power Protection is arguably the biggest threat to the selection.