Shrewd Moore snatches Derby tierce

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 April, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 April, 1996, 12:00am

It was just like old times . . . only master trainer George Moore produced something even he had not managed when ruling the roost in Hong Kong.

The 73-year-old Australian maestro trained the first three across the line in yesterday's $1.4 million Macau Derby at sodden Taipa. Much as he might otherwise have liked to, son Gary could only ride one of them and gave a faultless display on 7-2 favourite Winning Touch to score readily in the 1,800-metre Listed race from stablemates Truly Smile (50-1) and the Gerald Mosse-ridden Fighting Fit (15-1). The soft conditions underfoot were not ideal for the winner, but the Australian-bred gelding has class - and it showed. George and wife Iris, who part owns third-placed Fighting Fit, were swamped by well-wishers after the presentation but the man who has made racing headlines all his long life took it in his stride. 'I am pleased, actually very pleased.

The winner is a good horse and it is a bonus to have the other two in there as well. This was the race that mattered to us so it is still a bit of a thrill to win,' said the pensioner who still has that spring in his stride that comes with success. It may not quite be Hong Kong of 15 years ago, but there is still enough of the Moore magic around to turn Taipa into a racing hot-spot for at least one afternoon in a year. Former French and multiple Hong Kong champion jockey Gary has never been shy about showing his feelings after a worthwhile win and the Taipa faithful were left in no doubt that this was one that mattered.

He was modest in victory yesterday: 'I was on a horse that had class on them. I was always going to wait with him and it worked out well. I was following Chain River because I thought he would give me a good cart into the straight, but he was gone far too quickly. 'Fortunately, Fighting Fit took over and I followed him in. I dashed him clear and he idled a bit in front. Winning Touch is actually better over less than 1,800 metres and he doesn't really like soft ground. 'But it wasn't a bad effort for an old man, was it? And I told dad he'd really better retire now - how can you top an effort like that!' Mosse gave Fighting Fit every chance, striding him up on to the pace in the middle stages and attempting to go on with it at the top of the straight. But he was being stalked by Moore on the winner. A tiring Fighting Fit was caught close to home by the Grant Davison-ridden Truly Smile who was liberally quoted at 50-1. The official margins were one and a quarter and two and a half lengths. 'I told dad to start him because the owner was keen and there is only one Derby for them. His wet track form was the clincher,' said Gary. Former Curragh-based trainer Danny Murphy saddled fourth-placed Hay Wick (30-1) and said: 'The more experienced horses beat me.

'My fellow is still learning about it, but it was a corker of a run.' Second favourite Alex Win (7-2) was never a real factor and Lucky Day (10-1), who finished second to Winning Touch in the Derby Trial, never looked like getting close to him in the real thing.