Moore hopes French fancy Chinchon doesn't come back to haunt him
John Moore goes in to tomorrow's Queen Elizabeth II Cup with guarded confidence about Viva Pataca, but there is one horse among his nine rivals he's more wary of than most.
French visitor Chinchon is the horse in question and it's no coincidence he's by the same sire as Viva Pataca, the very successful Last Tycoon stallion Marju.
'My agents recommend him so we had a very good look at Chinchon and were going to buy him for one of our clients but fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately - depending on how things go - he failed the vet,' Moore said. 'There was an issue with one knee and the vet wasn't comfortable to pass him.'
So Chinchon stayed with his original trainer, French-based Spaniard Carlos Laffon-Parias, and here he is as one of the visitors for the QE II and a live chance of an upset.
It's just 12 months since Laffon-Parias almost pulled off a boilover when Balius, at 83-1, beat home odds-on favourite Viva Pataca in the 2008 QE II but had to answer to the brilliance of Mike de Kock's Archipenko.
'The form of Chinchon is quite similar to that of Balius last year,' Laffon-Parias said. 'Everyone assumed Balius was just a wet track performer but he loved the firmer ground at Sha Tin and performed very well, then he confirmed it with another good run in December [second to Eagle Mountain in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup].'
Chinchon was allowed to run along for the first time at Sha Tin yesterday, with race rider Olivier Doleuze on board, and registered the fastest piece of work by any of the visitors. The four-year-old colt ran a steady 1,200 metres but rattled home down the straight in 22.0 seconds for his final 400 metres, showing a change of gears that pleased both jockey and trainer.
Assistant trainer Stephane Duprey said: 'The horse is looking very well but at home he is quite lazy and we don't do a lot of work with him. Hopefully, he didn't do too much this morning.'
It was actually history repeating itself, because two days before the QE II last year, Balius went out onto the turf and strode along in even time before sprinting home in 22.4 seconds, also with Doleuze on board.
Marju, by the way, has made an indelible contribution to the upper classes of Hong Kong racing.
Before Viva Pataca came along, the stallion was best known as the sire of Indigenous, trained by the great Ivan Allan and hero of the 1998 Hong Kong Vase. Indigenous was the highest prize money earner until Silent Witness raced on by in 2005.