Victory Marvel has already won twice this season but crafty trainer Caspar Fownes may have a trick left up his sleeve when he tries his sprinter on the all-weather track at Wednesday night’s all-dirt meeting at Sha Tin.
All four of Victory Marvel’s runs this season have been at the Valley, but a strong preseason trial on the all-weather circuit indicates the son of I Am Invincible could take another step up in the ratings with a Class Three win.
After a first-up strike at the opening Valley meeting of the season, Victory Marvel was then a narrow second to Massive Millennium two weeks later, both under Zac Purton.
A step up to Class Three saw Chad Schofield take the ride at the light weight, strating with a third and then following that with a narrow win over Who Else But You that pushed the gelding back into Purton’s weight range.
With an ideal two-week back-up, the same space between each of his runs this season, Purton regains the mount and gets the benefit of a decent draw (six) in the Hebe Hill Handicap.
Victory Marvel has been blessed with low gates that have allowed a perfect run just behind the speed at his last three starts, and it will be interesting to see where the rider positions his mount.
In his only dirt trial back in late August, Victory Marvel displayed solid gate speed and then sat off a strong tempo set by Good Luck Man, before Purton showed off the horse’s sprint with a nice closing sectional to finish first.
There should be decent speed on Wednesday night, too, with Harbour Alert (Schofield) pushing on from barrier nine and Kei Chiong Ka-kei looking to hold a prominent spot from gate three on Hella Hedge.
How much pressure is created for those two could depend on whether Dylan Mo Hin-tung is sent forward on Fish N’ Chips or Karis Teetan makes a play for the front from a wide draw on Sky Man, as he did last time the horse was tried over the course and distance back in February.
The biggest danger to Victory Marvel could be another of the I Am Invincible progeny, Team Fortune (Silvestre de Sousa), who has found a new lease of life on the dirt this season with back-to-back victories in the grade.
Team Fortune has drawn 11, but similar barriers haven’t stopped the versatile sprinter at his past two starts.
De Sousa also rides I’m The Won For U in the in the Shek Uk Shan Handicap, with Me Tsui Yu-sak’s sprinter looking a reliable type to take as a banker in the opening leg of the Triple Trio.
I’m The Won For U has placed in all three of his starts over the course and distance so far this season and faces a field of much the same quality as he has seen previously.
Purton has a great book of rides, Victory Marvel is one of three for Fownes, but he also teams up with reigning champion John Size on young sprinter Game Of Fun in a Class Four over 1,200m.
Game Of Fun will have come on from his last start, a fifth behind upset winner Easy Touch, where the four-year-old raced a touch greenly in the straight as he was taken off the track by a wayward rival.
The Benno Yung Tin-pang stable is flying right now and Electronic Phoenix (Teetan) looks a great chance as he steps up in grade for the final race of the night, the Pyramid Hill Handicap.
A hold-up run pattern means Electronic Phoenix always needs some luck to show his best, but the five-year-old should get a suitably run race up in grade and can go one better after two desperately close seconds over the course and distance this season.