Evergreen miler more than Able to win another
While Able One's win on international day came as a shock, the nine-year-old may have another big race in him yet, with stable jockey Darren Beadman preferring the evergreen miler out of John Moore's five runners in tomorrow's Stewards' Cup (1,600m) at Sha Tin.
A cracking track gallop on Thursday convinced Beadman to switch to Able One after he had ridden Xtension into third as favourite behind his stablemate in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile.
Moore said Able One had thrived since his career-capping triumph last month and represented his best hope in the first leg of the Triple Crown, revealing he has some doubts over each of his other runners.
'The old fellow is absolutely flying and we couldn't have him any fitter,' Moore said of Able One. 'Darren worked him and Xtension on Thursday morning and Able One was more impressive. He then drew the gun gate of five and I think he is a great chance of picking up another local Group One.'
Given Moore's reputation as Hong Kong's feature-race specialist, it is surprising he has won the Stewards' Cup just once, with Distinction in 1987. His quintet of runners gives him a decent chance of a second, with Able One and Xtension (Jeff Lloyd) joined by Destined For Glory (Tim Clark), Irian (Gerald Mosse) and Mighty High (Neil Callan).
Moore foresees a lack of speed tomorrow, which will add to Able One's chances of upsetting the highly rated pair of Ambitious Dragon (Douglas Whyte) and California Memory (Matthew Chadwick) at level weights, with the trainer hoping Beadman can reproduce Lloyd's pace-stalking Hong Kong Mile ride.
'I don't think they'll be running any slick times,' Moore said. 'Sight Winner can probably take up the running and Able One can be right there on the speed and tracking him. California Memory will box seat again from gate two and Ambitious Dragon will be holding up on the outside somewhere.'
While Able One produced a spritely trial 11 days ago, Moore described Extension's lead-up trial as 'lacklustre' and said the flashy looking entire had not done as well, perhaps due to the cold weather.
After Destined For Glory won the Jockey Club Mile, he was a disappointing 12th behind Able One on international day, with the five-year-old found to have blood and mucus in his trachea.
Moore said the subsequent treatments put a question mark over Destined For Glory. 'We had to clear up all of the upper respiratory stuff,' he said. 'He scoped nice and clean this morning, but coming off antibiotics there's always doubts whether they will be at their top.'
The Triple Crown continues with the Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup (2,000m) next month and the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2,000m) in April, where Irian will be better suited. Mighty High's main target will be the Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2,400m) in May.
'A mile is a little on the short side for Irian and this is his lead-up run for the Gold Cup,' Moore said. 'Without a fast pace, horses like him closing from the rear could have trouble.
'Since Mighty High came back from Australia he has improved and he finished off very nicely with a big weight at Happy Valley. He should be really hitting his straps by May.'