THIS is the time of year to start following the David Hill stable as a double at last night's Grand National simulcast meeting at Happy Valley illustrated.
Hill and his stable jockey, Philip Robinson, struck with two contrasting types to complete a back-to-back double in the L'Or de Martell Cup and then the fifth event. The ultra-consistent Kowloon Pride notched his third victory of the season for Hill when taking the feature event in his customary game style by a short head from Regal Ridge. Straight Way was a further 13/4 lengths back in third. Robinson then rode a tactically brilliant race to nurse the decidedly enigmatic Danish Heights to his first Hong Kong success from 21 attempts. The double took Robinson to 12 winners for the season and Hill to 13. It also literally left Hill jumping for joy as he urged Robinson and Danish Heights home to their length defeat of Active Way. 'I wish I had a stable full of Kowloon Prides. They don't come any more genuine than he and he makes my job pretty straightforward,' said Hill. 'He was five pounds worse off with the runner-up on their last start together and still beat him.
'Basil [Marcus] told me that he was sure he had us beaten just five metres from the post, but my fellow doesn't know the meaning of defeat. 'Basil even thought he got in front just before the post, but mine stuck his head out again and battled and battled.' A profound track bias to those racing on the outside operated throughout last night's Happy Valley meeting, as is customary when there have been a couple of quick meetings at the fragile city circuit, which can't take racing.
This feature event favoured those on the outside which is why Roman Imp, who disputed the lead and stuck to the rails where the ground was much slower, put in such a good effort to keep on for fourth. Watch out for him in sprints on a firmer surface.
Robinson had already assessed the track to a nicety prior to the fifth and kept Danish Heights out the back and then brought him around his field and right down the outside fence in the straight.
It was a tactical manoeuvre which won him the race as Danish Heights held the Ivan Allan-trained Active Way with Classa Speed running on for third. Hill continued: 'We've been working on Danish Heights' mind more than anything else.
He's always shown plenty of ability, it has just been a question of getting him to put it all in. 'That's why we decided to drop him right out tonight and those tactics really suited him though, of course, he was lucky that the track conditions also suited these tactics.' It was a particularly galling defeat for Allan as he actually bred Danish Heights out of his mare Chamonis, who once landed a tremendous punt for the champion trainer at Goodwood when trained in Newmarket by Chris Wall. But Allan still trained a double of his own to steal a very handy break of two over his closest pursuers, David Hayes and John Moore.
Allan's double was initiated by Rainbow Star in the penultimate event and completed in the last when Perfection, another heavily favoured by the outside and swampers' track bias, wore down Centre Court and Kowloon Jazz close home in the last.
There was only a neck in it on the line, but for Perfection it was his third success of the season, while Hayes has found the key to Centre Court, who fought on like a lion last night having been decidedly chicken-hearted in the past.