TRIPLE defending champion jockey Basil Marcus can regain some vital momentum in his title quest by taking the sixth on Regal Ridge who looks a cracking good win and place wager on another fascinating card at Sha Tin this afternoon. There was top sport from start to finish last weekend and, as far as Marcus was concerned, the thrill of a double plus a most unwanted, heart-stopping spill. But Marcus is as tough as teak as well as being a man to have very much on your side when having a bet. Despite that bone-crushing fall from Space Rock he rode the perfect race in victory on Foursome and put up another blinding display on Prominence who ran second to Rabbit Bo Bo. There is no doubt that the defence of his title means a great deal to the South African who as the pressure becomes more intense, rides better and better. Rarely has the old adage, 'as the going gets tough, the tough get going' been more appropriate. Marcus is particularly adept down the straight 1,000-metre course as any number of victories have shown. Recent examples on Captive Trick and Foursome spring readily to mind and it really is a peculiar distance where jockeys as well as horses excel. In Regal Ridge and Marcus both horse and rider are well suited to the straight track. Regal Ridge has a highly creditable second to his name to Gints To Win over course and distance last season and is now in much better form in the mornings. Last time out there was even more merit to his third to Splendid than meets the eye, for two main reasons. First, Regal Ridge had been off the track for a couple of months and had hardly done any work coming into the race. There is no way that he was fully wound up for that 1,200-metre event. He can be relied upon to have progressed a good couple of lengths for the outing and that is certainly how it has appeared in his trackwork. He went really well in a trial down the straight a month later and his final gallop, alongside Mr Vitality on Thursday morning as they came through their last quarter in a most pleasing 22.2 seconds, underlined that Regal Ridge is now in peak condition. Secondly, he disputed the lead in that race behind Splendid so did even better to hold on for third than the bare result suggests. Today's event has a weaker overall feel about it and Regal Ridge is definitely betting material. But make sure you save your win stake through the place pool as there does look to be a danger in the shape of the English import, Pine Fame. He could be anything as a three-year-old in Hong Kong as his two-year-old form in England was only just below the very top grade. He won a decent race at Salisbury before being asked to take on some of the smartest juveniles in training, managing to run third in Listed events over 1,200 and 1,400-metre events which had they been in the Southern Hemisphere would have been more like Group Three affairs at the very least, possibly even Group Two. As a general rule it is best to give a wide berth to these Northern Hemisphere three-year-olds as they are at such a distinct disadvantage on weight-for-age grounds against their older rivals. But occasionally one is just too good as Viva Icta underlined last weekend. And while there is also the possibility that Pine Fame will need the run, his trial win on Tuesday morning suggests that he is forward enough to give a good account of himself. Whatever he accomplishes this afternoon, he is a most interesting acquisition to the sprinting ranks. Marcus has a great chance of completing a double on Mr Vitality in the fifth, the feature Sassoon Challenge Cup. Fourth in Australia's premier Group One event for two-year-olds, the Golden Slipper, and a close second in the Group One Blue Diamond Stakes prior to that, Mr Vitality is about the best performed youngster to come here from the Southern Hemisphere. He won in classy fashion on his debut and while he's had a runny nose since and missed races and is by no means fully wound up, he could still prove too good for his rivals. His main danger could well be Flying High who has worked impeccably in the visor which he now wears for the first time in a race. Both horses are well drawn.