Viva Macau primed for January Cup
John Moore looks to have found a viable race option for Viva Macau early next month and the four-year-old showed his readiness for a move to Happy Valley with a comfortable trial win at the city venue yesterday morning.
Viva Macau, owned in the same interests as Hong Kong's best stayer Viva Pataca, has been set for the January Cup over 1,800 metres on January 9 and it's a race Moore knows something about, having won it last January with Famous Dancer and in 2004 with the grand veteran Bull's Eye.
Viva Macau was handled in yesterday's 1,700m trial by Zac Purton, while Darren Beadman rode stablemate Eyshal (last of the four runners) for Art Trader's owner David Boehm.
The big black stallion loped along comfortably in second place, moved up a gear after straightening and was not fully extended in the final stages to defeat Horace's Choice (Christophe Soumillon) by a length.
Viva Macau won the SaSa Ladies' Purse over 1,800m at Sha Tin on October 14, beating the Tony Cruz-trained Luckyme, but then failed to measure up to the big boys, when finishing 12th of 13 runners behind Doctor Dino in the Hong Kong Vase, beaten 10 lengths.
It's well known, however, that Viva Macau has not been enjoying the firm racing surface at Sha Tin and that he may well appreciate the softer ground underfoot at Happy Valley.
That was certainly the case for his stablemate Famous Dancer last year and may prove to be the case once again in 21/2 weeks time.
Horace's Choice, trained by Caspar Fownes, settled in third place in this trial, some four lengths off the lead, and looked sure to win when he made a rush towards the lead, wide on the track, in the final 200m.
But in the final stages, Soumillon took it very gently on this son of Strategic, and allowed the gelding to stride up the final 200m well on the bridle.
Fownes and Soumillon made amends some 15 minutes later when Veni Vedi Vici [Latin for I came, I saw, I conquered - a famous quote credited to Julius Caesar] did exactly that, swooping on the leaders under a strong ride from the Belgian before coming away to score by two lengths at 1,200m. Veni Vedi Vici, a son of O'Reilly, was formerly trained in New Zealand by the father and son partnership of Paddy and Trent Busuttin.
He won just one of his eight starts but, significantly, it was one of only two starts on good ground, taking a maiden by 31/2 lengths at Hastings.
After that, Veni Vedi Vici - formerly known as Pinot Grigio - showed he was one of New Zealand's best classic three-year-olds with placings in the Hawkes Bay Guineas (third to Jokers Wild), Wellington Guineas (second to Jokers Wild) and Avondale Guineas (second to Veloce Bella).
Veni Vedi Vici arrives on a rating of 91 and looks sure to continue the good work of the Waikato Stud stallion O'Reilly, whose local progeny include stablemates Time Supreme, Cheeky and Fifty Fifty, as well as Circular Machine, Double Luck, O'Reilly Rally, Fellowship and classy sprinter Friendly Gains.