Injury cloud hangs over Collection
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For the second time in as many years, John Moore will have numbers in his favour but he is being made to earn the hard way anything he gets from today's Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Internationals at Sha Tin, with Collection his latest runner to throw out a question mark.
'I've never been a drinker but can anyone recommend a good whisky?' winced Moore yesterday after Collection was reported mildly lame in his right fore foot. 'I'm still going into these races with high hopes. Able One and Collection have got great chances from their good draws, but I would just say to the punters that they should keep in mind that we have had these hiccups close to the race.'
Earlier injury concerns with the Moore-trained Able One (Mile) and One World (Sprint) were cleared away yesterday, at least in terms of their participation, and the French-trained Vase runner, Board Meeting, has also been passed.
But the Aidan O'Brien-trained stayer Joshua Tree is under a cloud with lameness in his right foreleg, and he and Collection will be inspected by the Jockey Club vets this morning.
'The senior farrier shod him after he worked on Thursday morning and there was some bruising to the sole of the foot. We had to re-shoe him today and he has improved throughout the day,' Moore said last night. 'I expect he will be fine to run, but these types of races happen once a year and they are hard enough to win anyway, without these things cropping up.'
A past winner of the Hong Kong Cup in 1993 with Motivation and the Sprint two years ago for the same ownership with Inspiration, Moore has been Hong Kong's leading top-grade trainer in recent seasons.
He has won all three of the domestic lead-up races for the international meeting and has a strong hand on paper, but that was the case 12 months ago when he had to be content with three seconds.
'It's nice to be going in with numbers because that's why we do our homework and buy the types of horses for our owners that we hope will get into the big races, but it's never easy just the same. If we could win one at least this year, I would be ecstatic,' he said.
Moore reserves his greatest confidence for the Mile with Able One and the Cup with Irian and Collection, but he also has One World, Dim Sum and Let Me Fight in the Sprint and Viva Pataca and Mighty High in the Vase.
'Collection could not have worked better on Thursday before this shoeing problem, and I was sure he had improved a lot since the Jockey Club Cup run behind Irian, when he had a chequered passage and some blood in his trachea after,' Moore explained.
'We addressed that blood issue after the run, changed a few things with his diet and so on, and when he was scoped on Tuesday, I took a look myself and he was absolutely clean.
'Until this latest hiccup, I didn't think we could have Collection any better for this race, even though I wouldn't rule out a big run from Irian, too.'
The local 1,600m form invariably stands up in the Mile, with six of the last eight winners locally trained, and Hong Kong horses providing the tierce in the past two runnings.
Moore remains confident Able One will continue the great record of the Jockey Club Mile winners going to the main event - none has missed a place and Good Ba Ba (2007) and Lucky Owners (2003) won both.
'He has had this minor issue with a bump on his eye but the important thing is that he hasn't missed any work through it - I have no doubt he is the horse to beat,' he said.
'In the Sprint, I'm hoping. Dim Sum ran well in the lead-up but you'd have to think it's a little tough for him, One World had the problem with his capped elbow and then drew the outside, which we really didn't want for him and I did give Let Me Fight a real knockout chance from a good gate but he didn't get one.
'The Vase is a jump in class for Mighty High and a query at the 2,400m and as for Viva Pataca - he's worked well enough but it's difficult to the miles in the legs of a local horse for 2,400 metres with our programme.
'At his age, against a field like this, I'd be happy to finish in the first four.'