Moore aiming to upset odds once more
Six of the last nine favourites have won the Group One Chairman's Sprint Prize at odds-on but every time there has been an upset, the shock has been provided by John Moore and he will be looking to do the same tomorrow.
In 2003, Horse of the Year Grand Delight won at $16 and was succeeded by Silent Witness (2004 and 2005) at very short odds, while Absolute Champion (2007) and Sacred Kingdom (2008 and 2010) have also scored at odds-on.
However, when punters have been left scratching their heads after the major domestic sprint, there was Moore in the winner's circle, with Billet Express at 25-1 and Dim Sum twice, at 50-1 in 2009 and 14-1 last year, coincidentally all in the colours of owner David Pong Chun-yee.
'That's an interesting statistic. I hope we can do it again on Sunday because the three of mine are fit and well,' Moore (pictured) said. 'Each one needs a few things to go right, but we know they have the ability.'
The leading big-event trainer is already halfway to his HK$90 million-plus prizemoney goal at the halfway mark of the season, and although Pong is without a runner, Moore will be three-handed in the 1,200m second leg of the Hong Kong Speed Series with Leading City, Let Me Fight and nine-year-old Sunny King.
'If I had to pick one as a knockout, it would be Sunny King,' Moore said. 'He was plagued with bacteria problems a few months ago and missed a part of the season. At his age, it's a slow return to full fitness but his run in the straight race was good, finishing off well, and if the pace is strong we know he'll be running on.'
The pace is most likely to be established by front-running stablemate Leading City, who will revert to his lead-at-all-costs tactics.
'The stewards had us in the room the other day for not leading when Aashiq won. We elected to sit behind him and it proved a tactical error, but everyone knows what we'll be doing this time and that might set it up for horses running on,' Moore said. 'Leading City is one of those difficult ones for the opposing horses because he runs along quickly in front and, if you take him on, you'll fall in a heap, but left alone he can keep going, too.'
And much-maligned Let Me Fight will get all the favours from gate one, but will it be enough?
'We've said it plenty of times. He has the ability to win these races and he should get the perfect run tracking up behind Lucky Nine. It's just that he doesn't seem to ever win,' Moore said. 'He does seem to go best for Jeff Lloyd, but he needs to arrive right on the line and not have much time to think about being in front.'