Zaidan's ready to challenge from the front, says Moore
Trainer John Moore has no fears if Zaidan, Hong Kong's dark horse for tomorrow's Singapore Airlines International Cup, is forced to take up the running.
The dawdling pace of the race 12 months ago saw California Memory forced into an unaccustomed role in the lead when he failed as favourite.
This year, the tempo is again the biggest question mark over the race.
Matthew Chadwick was widely criticised for taking California Memory to the lead last year, but Moore said yesterday he would not be unhappy if jockey James McDonald was left in the frontrunner's role, even though it isn't his preference.
'James won't be looking for the lead, no. I'll want him to use the inside draw, bounce out and take a position up on the back of the lead.
'But if they are going so slow that Zaidan is left in front, then I think that would probably be the place to be.
'He has led before and didn't run well, in the Classic Mile, but that was on a soft track that didn't suit him,' Moore said. 'From my reading of the race, Andreas Suborics will be going forward on Zazou, who was up on the lead in Hong Kong in December when he ran third and has a good gate. And the local horse Waikato is capable of grabbing the bull by the horns and taking the front, too.'
One school of thought is that Opie Bosson will be wanting to overcome the awkward eight barrier on Laurie Laxon-trained Waikato and the lack of early speed in the race gives him the chance to do that from the jump.
'Whatever leads, it will be a slow tempo - just like last year. They'll be bunched right up and horses will be trapped wide and maybe something will have to come around like California Memory did last year,' Moore said. 'But if James holds a forward spot from that draw, he can let the race take shape around him.'
Zaidan has been a quiet achiever this season, with fourths in the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby and Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup and a win in the Group One Classic Cup against his own age.
While he still has a little improvement to find to win tomorrow's international Group One, Moore said the good draw was going to help and the four-year-old showed no signs of having come to the end after a lengthy season.
Moore said: 'He seems to be extremely well. My concern would be if we got a wet track but the horse is in terrific form.'
Zaidan cantered two laps yesterday, while Hong Kong's other candidates, California Memory and Thumbs Up, also cantered, with connections reporting them very fit.
The prize money, in HK dollars, for the Singapore Airlines International Cup, to be run at Kranji tomorrow