Moore to train a new Derby hero
John Moore may not have to wait long to finally erase the disappointment of having Tiber finish second to the blockbusting Lucky Owners in the Group One Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby earlier this year.
The trainer has secured a highly regarded contender for the 2005 Derby in the shape of Castleton, an impressive five length maiden winner at Newmarket on June 5 prior to contesting the prestigious St James Palace Stakes (Gr 1, 1,600 metres) at Royal Ascot.
Renowned American form and breeding analyst Bill Oppenheimer refers to the St James Palace as 'the European 2,000 Guineas', as if often represents a clash between the winners of the English, Irish and French mile classics, and occasionally those of the lower-profile European racing nations as well.
This year was no exception as the St James Palace field boasted English 2000 Guineas winner Haafhd, the Irish 2000 Guineas hero Bachelor Duke and runner-up Azamour, as well as Brunel, who had been successful in the German classic equivalent.
As usual, Castleton made the running and through headed off on the home turn, he was battling back when squeezed on the fence and may have finished a shade closer than his three-lengths sixth behind the winner, Azamour, who trained on to win the Irish Champion Stakes for trainer John Oxx and jockey Michael Kinane last weekend.
Castleton, whose registered number is E079, recently arrived from England, where he was rated 112 at the end of a brief six-start career under the guidance of trainer Harvey Cyzer, who prepared the horse on behalf of wife Annie.
Despite the scrimmaging in the Royal Ascot feature, Castleton finished only 11/2 lengths behind Haafhd, a short head from Brunel and over a length in front of Bachelor Duke.
The analysts at Racing Post (UK) reviewed the performance this way: 'Castleton excelled himself and arguably would have been closer but for being squeezed up by Diamond Green into the final furlong,' they began.
'He had looked on the verge of Listed class on previous form before tapping in a maiden win.
'It could be stated he was best placed in setting the pace and had the run of the race. It remains to be seen whether he can repeat the performance which entitles him to at least win a Group Two or Three.'
Castleton's new owners, Dr & Mrs Cornel Li Fook-kwan, imported Castleton via a Replacement Permit for Able Win.
Dr and Mrs Li and trainer John Moore have had good success in recent years with Able Choice, a former champion griffin, and smart sprinter Able Prince.
Dr Li said Castleton was to be renamed with 'Able' in the title like each horse carries his black and old gold silks.
'I've been racing horses for 40 years and I've only had some good ones in recent times. It makes a nice change,' he chuckled.
Castleton has already tackled the 2,000 metre Derby trip in a Listed Race at Newmarket when third, beaten 41/4 lengths.
His form suggests he acts on any surface.
Asked whether the son of hot young shuttle sire Cape Cross can emerge as a viable Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby contender, Dr Li said: 'Hopefully, but that is a long way off and John will dictate his programme.'
Another classy European import to arrive in the past week on a Derby mission is Five Dynasties, impressive winner of the King Edward VII Stakes (Gr 2, 2,400m) at Royal Ascot. Five Dynasties is brother to Roosevelt, a close fourth in last year's Hong Kong Vase, and owner Paul Kan Man-lok purchased him from the Tipperary base of Aidan O'Brien.
'I enjoy good links with Ballydoyle and Coolmore and they know that I'm often on the lookout for the kind of fast ground horse that does well in Hong Kong,' said Kan.
'Many of their former horses have done very well here - River Dancer, for example - and I'm very confident of the suitability of Five Dynasties for Hong Kong racing.'
Five Dynasties, rated 110 in Ireland, arrives on a Replacement Permit for Ocelot and Kan is dreaming of repeating his Hong Kong Derby in 1996 with Che Sara Sara.
'The Derby is the long term plan and he will be trained by Paul O'Sullivan as he is a proven champion and I like to support the club's new trainers,' he said.