Captain Sweet and Admiration march towards future stardom
By his own admission, John Moore has had an atypically slow start to the new campaign but the leading yard 'flexed some muscle' at Sha Tin yesterday, with the trainer showing off two young horses of the future and stable jockey Darren Beadman snatching a treble.
Usually one of the quickest off the mark, Moore had started 27 runners for four wins at the same stage 12 months ago but was sitting on just 14 runners for a single victory at the commencement of the day.
That was looking more respectable when new three-year-olds Captain Sweet and Admiration made their seasonal debuts with wins, but Moore said the situation had been planned that way.
'Because the Jockey Club was putting in the new semaphore board in front of the public end of the stand, the small training track was closed until the 11th of August, plus the short break and the fact of steroids at the end of last season and the withdrawal regulations,' he said.
'So there was no time to get horses ready for the early meetings. There were races there for many of my horses, even my good horses, but I didn't want to start horses that had only three or four weeks' work.
'You just can't expect to run them off no preparation and then expect them to be competitive for the season. That's why I had only 14 runners before today. I've taken my time, there's plenty of season ahead and I'm sure we'll get our 50-odd winners and will be a force to be reckoned with again in the big races.'
Captain Sweet was the first of yesterday's pair to salute, nosing out the year-older hot favourite Ponderosa in race two, before Admiration showed great acceleration to overturn a field of mostly Class Three horses in the sixth.
'We're flexing some muscle today,' Moore grinned. 'These two showed some talent as griffins last season and Admiration managed to win one, but it was mostly educational for them. They've come back much stronger with the time off and I think they have big futures.'
Moore's son, George, had selected Admiration as a yearling for top owners, Mr and Mrs Hui Sai-fun, but said he had been unable to buy the full brother this year.
'We knew Admiration could gallop and tried to buy his brother, but Coolmore liked him a bit too much and paid a lot of money for him,' he said.
By Encosta De Lago from a Redoute's Choice mare, Admiration has been left a colt in case he turns out to be a stallion proposition but Moore said he hadn't felt there was any risk.
'He hadn't shown any sign that he was going the wrong way, so we left him as a colt, considering his pedigree,' he said. 'He is a horse that we will stretch out in distance and hope eventually he'll get a strong 2,000m.
'He won well today - we had no options but to take him back from the wide draw and Darren had to ride for luck but it came and that was a good win against experienced older horses carrying a big weight.'
Beadman said he felt there wasn't a great deal between the two youngsters, who have been partnered in their work.
'John didn't really get into them last season. He's brought them along slowly,' he said.
'Captain Sweet in particular was very immature last season. His body told you that - he looked like he was pieces of four different horses in one last season. But both of them have great attitudes, they have about the same ability when you work them together.
'John's done a great job to have them ready today, considering neither horse trialled.'