Inner Flame worked in first-time blinkers at Sha Tin last Thursday (28 January) morning and trainer Douglas Whyte is pinning his hopes on not only the headgear but a change of scenery to reignite the lightly-raced gelding’s career as he makes his Happy Valley debut in the first section of the Class 3 Lai Chi Kok Handicap (1200m) tomorrow night (Wednesday, 3 February).
“I’m hoping so (to recapturing last season’s form) – I’m hoping that a change does wonders, change is like a holiday so let’s take him to the Valley, a different environment, different atmosphere and different surface – he might enjoy it,” Whyte said.
The talented chestnut was a four-time winner from five starts last season but his rapid ascent through the grades has seemingly stalled with only one top three finish from four runs this campaign.
“Just to get him to focus (reason for applying blinkers), the racing is competitive enough at Happy Valley, so the blinkers going on is to help Jerry (Chau) out, to get him going and just to get him to hold the bridle,” Whyte said.
Having raced exclusively at Sha Tin across his entire nine-start career, Whyte’s 79-rater will have his first start under race conditions at the city circuit and does so with the blinkers applied in addition to his customary crossed nose band.
“It’s a bit of a wait and see, he’s carrying a lot of weight but he’s got a half decent draw and if he steps away he’ll have his chance,” Whyte said.