Moore can keep Gold Cup in the family with smart Irian
John Moore has owned the HK$8 million Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup in recent times and the leading trainer is in the driver's seat again this afternoon, with expensive import Irian ready to claim his first Group One win.
Moore has won the feature seven times in his career, but he has been a fixture in the winner's photo after most recently taking it four times in the past five years.
Super Kid (2006), Viva Pataca (2008 and 2009) and Collection (2010) have been too strong in the top domestic 2,000m event, and when his one defeat came with Viva Pataca just nudged out by Vengeance Of Rain four years ago, there was a case to argue he was unlucky, too.
This time, Moore is without Collection, still on the sidelines after the injury he suffered in December but, in Irian (Darren Beadman), Viva Pataca (Weichong Marwing) and Mighty High (Douglas Whyte), he still has the high hand in the race and could well run the tierce.
Irian stands out as the first choice from the stable, with the German import following his narrow defeat by Snow Fairy in December with a close third in the Stewards' Cup.
On that occasion, the combination of the drop in distance to 1,600m and a moderate tempo saw Irian outsprinted down the straight but there was nothing at all wrong with the performance. He still looks a horse with a little more upside to come and that places him ahead of most of his rivals, who have been well explored at this stage of their careers.
Key to him could again be the speed of the race, with only Super Pistachio and Packing Winner looking forward runners, but if the race breaks for him coming from the rear, then he may even be going well enough to overcome that.
Today will be Viva Pataca's fifth tilt at the Gold Cup in his great career and, while he is not the force he once was, he has shown enough to bear consideration. His fresh run with the tempo against him was good, then he was respectable in the Hong Kong Vase, despite finishing behind both Mighty High and King Dancer, and he was never in clear running in the Stewards' Cup when he shaped like he would finish it off all right.
Number of times John Moore has won the Hong Kong Gold Cup: 7