Happy Zero main danger to Good Ba Ba's triple bid
Hopes of another local defence of the HK$16 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile have been lifted by the absence of a real champion among the visitors and John Moore has added the spice with Happy Zero.
The Mile has enormous depth to it in terms of international ratings, with not one of the 14 invitees carrying an assessment under 115, and thus promises to be an open affair as Good Ba Ba looks to create history by becoming the first horse to win any of the international events for a third time, this year in the hands of trainer Derek Cruz.
The rising eight-year-old looked on schedule to peak next month with his third in the Mile Trial last Sunday and stands clear atop the Mile ratings with a world figure of 124.
While Egyptian Ra (119) holds the next highest international rating figure, French filly Sweet Hearth is in effect the next highest-rated on 117 as she will carry only 121 pounds in the race. And she is by far the most interesting of the visitors.
Trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, who has been so well represented at this meeting by females like Pride and Darjeena in the recent past, Sweet Hearth has won four of her nine starts, but it is her first foray into Group One territory last start that catches the eye. With Gerald Mosse aboard, she finished runner-up to Varenar in the Prix de la Foret over 1,400m at Longchamp during Arc weekend, relegating champion dual Breeders' Cup Mile winner Goldikova into third place. Moore's move to switch distances with Happy Zero, though, has thrown the X-factor into the race. Off an international rating of 117, he is obviously the big improver among the six hometown hopefuls and capable of taking that next step if he handles his first attempt beyond 1,400m.
In keeping with the Jockey Club's pursuit of the world's top owners, Alexandros will run for Godolphin and the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Confront will represent Khalid Abdullah in the race off a 116 rating.
Confront is another on the improve, in the form of his 12-start career with three wins on end in England recently up to Group Three level and was runner-up to Aqlaam at Ascot last July, the only time he was tested as high as Group Two.
Another leading owner in Gary Tanaka, who won the Mile with Docksider in 1999, will see his colours carried by Pressing for the final time before retirement, while Australia will be represented by the multiple Group One winner Racing To Win.