Moore hoping his full hand wins more than one trick
Hong Kong's leading big-race trainer, John Moore, has had his share of disappointments at recent Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Race days but has declared his team for the showpiece as his 'best ever'.
Two years ago, Moore turned up expecting multiple wins but had to settle for seconds in the Sprint, Mile and Cup, while he didn't even get as far as the races in 2010.
'Twelve months ago, we were approaching this week with great chances and then things went wrong. One World had a mishap, Collection developed foot issues and Able One had niggling things that flared up and saw him scratched at the barriers when he was the Mile favourite. Only Irian got there as we wanted and bumped into Snow Fairy,' Moore recalls with a grimace.
'They are hard to win any time, but almost everything went wrong during the lead-up. This year has been the opposite and we have seven horses, fit and well. This is the best group we've gone to the races with on this day,' he said.
Heading them is Xtension, which Moore declared the one to beat in the Mile after his good draw, but he has Destined For Glory as his 'dark horse' too.
'He has crept up on it a little bit. I was sure he would be running on international day, but whether it was the Cup, Mile or the Class One 1,400m was the question and his win in the Jockey Club Cup proved he can mix it with our best milers,' he said.
Moore declared Ambitious Dragon the best horse he had seen in his 40 years in Hong Kong after the National Day Cup, but Destined For Glory's defeat of Tony Millard's star makes Moore think the Cup door is ajar for Irian.
'He galloped well on Thursday and had a good blow. He's highly strung and can lose it race day so I haven't wound him up tight, until now,' Moore said. 'The draw wasn't kind but Irian seems to like the climate at this time of year, and it took Snow Fairy to beat him last year.
'I'm a great admirer of Ambitious Dragon, but him being beaten the other day makes me wonder if he was over the top. He was very fit when he thrashed the best first-up but that was in October and this is the meeting where I would want my horses in that sort of form. A champion can be wide in a slow tempo and still win, so for Destined For Glory to beat him...maybe he is vulnerable now.'
Moore hopes blinkers will squeeze another length from rising star Admiration to put him in the finish of the Hong Kong Sprint, and even has quiet confidence in Mighty High.
'He ran okay in the Vase last year when he wasn't the horse he became later in the season,' Moore said.
'He lost it after a couple of runs in Melbourne recently and that was a learning curve. I'd like to go back and do what the Europeans do - a run in the Geelong Cup then the Melbourne Cup - and not give him the chance to think about his environment. Since he came home, he has thrived.
'There isn't a lot of speed in the race and he could surprise with a soft lead,' Moore said.