Marcus right in the mood to land on Planet

Robin Parke

CHAMPION jockey Basil Marcus is adept at picking up rides on the verge of winning and he has secured the choice mount on Planet in the first leg of the Double Trio at Sha Tin tomorrow night.

Marcus, who had an unaccustomed slow start to the season, has flexed his muscles recently and is right in there fighting to retain his crown. He certainly has the material to work with in the shape of handy stayer Planet in this Class Three, 1,900-metre event.

Planet has some fairly awesome form to his name when considering this race - not least a victory over Miss Piggy who is now reaching the higher staying ranks locally.

And few will doubt that Planet can turn the tables on New Leaf who beat him by just over two lengths over this trip at Sha Tin on October 2. Planet, in need of the run, battled on well and is now seven pounds in with New Leaf, more than enough to reverse the form.

With this night meeting at Sha Tin, it also falls in Planet's favour as all his form has been at the New Territories course rather than the city track used to host 99 per cent of midweek meetings.

The biggest threat is the Lawrie Fownes-trained Cricket Lord who ran up a hat-trick of wins last season and will be an even better proposition this time around.

Fownes has put plenty of work into the horse and he will run well. It will be no surprise if Cricket Lord obliges but he will come out of this race in even better shape and would be something of a special at Sha Tin over a suitable trip.

Jive Boy was going like an absolute winner at the turn in the race won by New Leaf and found nothing when let down by Jackie C.K. Tse. It was most disappointing but it might he worth giving him another chance here.

Visiting jockey Peter Hutchinson takes over on the Alex Wong Siu-tan galloper and did a sparkling job on Supreme Sovereign for the trainer two weeks ago.

And that leaves Winner's Special, who went under by a nostril to New Leaf and will be strongly fancied to win here for man-of-the-moment, trainer Wong Tang-ping. It's a stable in form all right but Winner's Special may just lack resolution.

The second leg of the Double Trio is a mundane Class Five affair and the nod goes to topweight Over The Blues who has never lived up to some early promise shown last season.

But he has now reached this level of competition and should run into the first three in a weak affair.

His only show of real form last season came at his last run when he attempted to make all over 1,400 metres at Sha Tin and was run down by Golden Era and Surely Wonderful.

The booking of Irish champion Mick Kinane for King Spot is significant and he is likely to start favourite in this 12-runner event. King Spot went under narrowly to Easy Beat and Saint Dragon Hill at Sha Tin earlier this season and has continued to work well.