Moore's worth his eight in Gold

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 February, 2012, 12:00am

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The HK$8 million Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup has been one of the flagship events of John Moore's long and successful training career.

But even getting his wish list at the barrier draw yesterday has not emboldened him to declare for an eighth win in the race. Moore has seven gold Cup trophies, stretching back to Wing Ho in 1987.

And with four victories from the last six runnings of the Gold Cup - Viva Pataca (2008, 2009), Super Kid (2006) and Collection (2010) - it is a race he knows how to win.

But even with four of the 10 runners on Sunday, Moore knows Horse of the Year Ambitious Dragon and the defending Cup winner California Memory, are two awesome rivals. Though Champions Mile winner Xtension has yet to beat Ambitious Dragon in their four meetings, Moore is hoping an ideal gate one draw gives his stable elect an upset chance to make his own luck while the two favourites stand him a start.

'Xtension has done very well on the track and I couldn't have asked for a better gate than that,' he said.

'I expect Super Pistachio will come over and take his usual role as pacemaker and that draw allows Jeff Lloyd and Xtension to get a tow into the race just behind the lead to make him a live chance. You look at the two favourites and California Memory does need luck at times with his racing style. And if Ambitious Dragon isn't quite on top of his game, like on international day, maybe Xtension is a chance to beat them.

'He'll be the one closest to the pace and kicking away and they'll have the job to run down a very fit, good quality horse.'

Stablemate Irian also came up with the right midfield draw as Moore hopes Damien Oliver can turn the clock back some 14 months.

'He's a bit day-to-day as we all know, but he had a very hard run in the Stewards' Cup and you have to overlook that, and gate five suits him,' Moore said.

'I didn't want him getting back and conceding a start with California Memory because he just doesn't have the same turn of foot. But from where he's drawn, Damien should be able to have him in midfield.

'If he can get the same ride Brett Prebble gave him in the international when it took Snow Fairy to beat him only in the last bound, then he's an each-way chance.'

Moore said Mighty High was 'probably not quick enough against these horses, but is coming along with respect to the more suitable 2,400m races later in the season'.

He also tagged the unheralded Packing Ok as his surprise package.

'Mark du Plessis rode him in work the other morning and gave him a big thumbs up. He seems to be going really well and is still improving.

'I know he's out of it at the handicaps but he could be a knockout at big odds,' Moore said.