Old-timer Bamboo Dance aiming for seventh heaven at Sha Tin
David Hall-trained eight-year-old seems to be defying his age, showing some spark with a purple patch of six straight wins
When does an eight-year-old winning in Class Three give him bragging rights over the likes of Able Friend, Good Ba Ba, Fairy King Prawn, Ambitious Dragon and Mr Vitality?
When it’s David Hall-trained Bamboo Dance looking for seven straight at Sha Tin tomorrow.
It’s probably very safe ground to say six straight is a record for his age, but seven would take Bamboo Dance into a zone few horses of any vintage ever visit.
The only names to come readily to mind with seven straight wins in Hong Kong are Silent Witness (on his way to 17), Co-Tack (whose run stopped at 10) and Entrapment (who won his first eight.)
But those were sharp young horses starting top-class careers, not a seven-year-old with one win from 30 starts, a rating of 18 and headed inexorably towards compulsory retirement as Bamboo Dance was when he went to Hall for the second time last February.
“It’s a story that would only happen here, the horse leaving me, coming back and then this,” Hall said yesterday.
“It has been a very enjoyable ride for everyone connected with him. Even Joao Moreira, who rides winner after winner, has got a big kick out of it. The horse has been great for the stable, too.
“A few of seasons ago I got Solar Great and won five in a row then Hit A Home Run started in Class Five with me and won four out of five. On the back of that, Bamboo Dance has definitely got the stable a lot of attention.”
And Hall says the beauty of the remarkable streak is how little pressure he feels.
“Normally, when a horse strings wins together, he’s young, on the way up and pressure builds to keep it going,” Hall said.
“I’m sure Chris So [Wai-yin] felt it when Fabulous One was going for five in a row last week, but, with an eight-year-old, there’s none of that. Every time Bamboo Dance wins, you almost laugh out loud because it has all been so unexpected.”
The obvious question is what changed in Bamboo Dance to make this happen, but Hall says maturity just seems to have arrived late.
“When he won for me as a five-year-old, he did look good doing it, but through bad luck, bad draws, slow pace or whatever, he didn’t turn up after,” he recalls.
“It sounds funny because you’re not talking about a four- or five-year-old maturing, but I think he just took a long time to learn to cope with Hong Kong.”
So, although Ryan Moore will be the most anticipated participant tomorrow, Bamboo Dance is something much rarer and Hall says he will be in the same shape that he has been since May: “He’s gone a bit wintry in the coat, but other than that I couldn’t say he’s any different. And if he wins the fairy tale becomes bigger – if he doesn’t, there won’t be any tears.”