Collection foregoes Cox Plate for home glory

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 August, 2009, 12:00am

The new-term focus for Derby hero Collection has shifted sharply, with the intended mission of landing the Group One Cox Plate in Melbourne already scrapped in favour of the Cathay Pacific International races in December.

Trainer John Moore has made no secret of his career ambition to prepare a Group One winner on foreign soil (after three frustrating seconds) but has shelved the planned Cox Plate assault in favour of the Jockey Club's December showcase. However, international plans are merely on the backburner for last season's brilliant Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby hero. 'What I'd really love to do is to take him to Dubai in March for the Sheema Classic at the new Meydan course,' Moore (pictured) said yesterday. 'Of course, I recognise that he has to be invited first and I don't want to be counting my chickens before they hatch, but that's the plan.

'He seems to have come back very well and if he finds the form we know he's capable of, then he should be very competitive in our big races and hopefully that will be considered worthy of a Dubai invitation.'

Moore said the initial plan to focus on the A$3.05 million (HK$19.44 million) Tatts Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 24 were canned, in consultation with Collection's owners, after an examination of the prevailing quarantine protocols.

'Unfortunately, you cannot race a horse in Australia out of quarantine, as you can do in Dubai and elsewhere,' Moore explained. 'It makes it quite a tricky exercise and then you have the next challenge of getting him back here in top form for December.

'On balance, we thought the better idea was to stay here and take aim at December, and see if we can earn an invite to Dubai. So in the end, we didn't even enter for Melbourne.'

Collection will return to racing under handicap conditions in the Group Three Sha Tin Trophy over 1,600 metres on October 25, a race Moore won last term as the launching pad to Viva Pataca's Horse of the Year campaign.

'Collection and Viva Pataca will both contest that race,' Moore continued. 'Then, they will go on to the [Group Two] International Cup Trial in November and after that, I'll separate them for international day.'

Moore said Viva Pataca seems 'ageless' as he enjoys the early stages of his build-up to a return to competition in nine weeks' time.

'His riding boy is delighted with him ... he says he's come back better than ever. He said the same thing last year and he was proved absolutely right.'

Viva Pataca has contested the last three editions of the HK$20 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup at 2,000 metres, but his three successes over 2,400 metres in the Champions & Chater Cup (2006, 2007 and 2009) have Moore seriously considering the HK$14 million Hong Kong Vase (2,400m) as the gelding's December goal.