Moore shows punters who's Boss
The tide has turned in emphatic fashion for trainer John Moore, who began Derby Day by taking the two griffin events with smart juveniles Universal Star (9-1) and Smartlord (5-2 favourite).
It also heralded a glorious start to his latest Hong Kong stint for Australian rider Glen Boss, who was on both winners.
After a depressing run of 70 races without a winner, So Great won at the Valley last week and the Australian trainer had every reason to be delighted after the performances of these youngsters.
Universal Star had been well spoken of before his recent debut when he blew the start and, consequently, his chances. Yesterday, in the 1,000-metre opener, he jumped on terms and was coasting in the run with the sensationally-supported Proud Salute (7-5 favourite).
Those taking the very short odds on the David Hayes-trained runner had every reason to be concerned as Universal Star and Boss were jogging in the run. The impressive two-year-old went clear to win by a conservative three-quarters of a length from Proud Salute, who only just held off topweight Faster Mount (5-1).
'This time he did everything right. I did not put him through the gates because I was pretty certain he would be all right. Once he jumped, I was very confident because he is a nice type,' said Moore.
Smartlord is smart and after this 2.75-length victory over a less-than-suitable 1,000 metres, Moore immediately released plans to start the son of Marscay over 1,400 metres in two weeks time.
Smartlord jumped with them - as had not been the case last time - and this nine-runner dash was virtually over from that point.
Boss had an armchair ride to victory with the battle for minor places between topweight Primo (5-2) and Par Excellence (4-1), the main interest. The runner-up slot went to the Douglas Whyte-ridden Primo.
'I got them both for about $1 million and I think that is good value. They are both by Marscay but his price has dropped since they started bringing in the Northern Hemisphere stallions,' explained Moore.
The owners will have no reason to complain about the price tags and Smartlord, in particular, looks like a horse with real potential.