Happy Zero switching to HK Mile
Happy Zero cranked up his awesome reputation with a comprehensive defeat of Sacred Kingdom in the Cathay Pacific International Sprint Trial yesterday to make himself nominal favourite for the December 13 shortcourse showpiece, but will be a shock entry for the Hong Kong Mile this morning instead.
'The late entries close in the morning, Happy Zero was not in the Mile originally, but he will be now - Darren Beadman's been telling me for weeks that this horse is a miler not a sprinter. We will keep our options open, but we might go for the longer race with him instead,' trainer John Moore said after Happy Zero was backed into odds-on and made it seven wins from eight starts, even though it was not all plain sailing. The world's joint top-rated sprinter, Sacred Kingdom got breaks in the straight, which were evading Happy Zero (Beadman) and got first run on him and a clear margin, but when the Danzero gelding saw daylight it was soon over and he ran away to win by two lengths.
'He almost struggled to keep up early, I couldn't have been a metre closer than I was,' Beadman said.
'He started to travel rounding the home turn, but when I was getting held up inside, I saw Sacred Kingdom getting the run on me and thought he'd stolen a march.
'I reckon he got a length up on me. But Happy Zero exploded when the split did come - he goes through his gears very quickly once he winds up.'
At times guilty of overracing last season in his initial preparation up to 1,400m, Happy Zero has been far more switched off this term, leading Beadman to believe that 1,600m may be more suitable than the hustle and bustle of the Hong Kong Sprint. 'The way he is racing now, the extra distance is going to help him get travelling. I don't think I've ever ridden a horse with such a long stride and that includes Saintly, who was a bigger and a longer horse than Happy Zero,' Beadman said.
'He has an enormous stride and that certainly makes you think about a mile rather than 1,200m.'
Moore has previously won the Sprint and the Cup on international day and saddles up a strong team this year across the four races, including Collection, Viva Pataca and Happy Zero, whichever race he contests on December 13.
'I'm looking forward to it - we have the horseflesh, we have the staff, we have the jockey and I can't see why we couldn't win one or two of these races,' a jubilant Moore said.
He may now rely on underrated One World to tackle the Hong Kong Sprint after 2008 winner Inspiration overraced early, finished eased down by Gerald Mosse, then pulled up with blood in his trachea.
'It was a three-out-of-five bleed, which explains his poor run - we'll let the dust settle, but if there's a lot of blood down there then I'll recommend to the owner that Inspiration miss the international race and have a break,' Moore said.
On the rise
Happy Zero has earned himself a place as one of the best. The number of wins he has registered from eight starts is...: 7