Moore furious at Derby dawdle
Many of the best four-year-old racehorses in town were walking wounded yesterday after the stop-start Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby on Sunday, and reigning champion trainer John Moore promised he 'won't let that happen again as long as I'm training'.
The David Ferraris-trained favourite Sweet Orange returned from the HK$16 million race with cuts to a hind leg after another runner galloped on him, and at least two of Moore's six Derby runners emerged from the classic 'cut to bits', he said.
'The winner was up out of trouble in the pathetically slow tempo, while back in the field everyone was trying to stay off the horses in front of them,' Moore said.
'Dominant and Military Attack have been cut to bits and most of mine are showing signs of having been galloped on somewhere. Some are front legs, some are back legs but with everybody on each other's backs in that sort of slow tempo.
'I'll tell you this much - it won't be happening again as long as I'm training. In the past, I've had stayers like Mighty High or Viva Macau with a natural front-running racing style that ensures these good races aren't run like the Derby was on Sunday and I'll be looking for more of them.'
Moore said the injuries to his four-year-olds were nevertheless superficial and would not significantly interrupt plans for them. 'We will look towards the QE II Cup with them and we'll see which of them manages to get an invitation,' he said.
Ferraris was equally as upset over the tempo in the race, with Sweet Orange suffering a nasty cut to a back leg, but he said he was extremely disappointed with Tye Angland's ride on his other runner, Liberator.
'I told him to bounce the horse out and lead. It's Liberator's normal style in any case, but it would have prevented what happened with the ridiculous pace, and instead of that, he's jumped Liberator out, had the chance to lead, then looked around and steadied behind Bullish Champion. I have no idea what he was doing,' Ferraris said.
'With a true pace, Sweet Orange would have won and maybe we wouldn't have horses coming back with all these cuts and injuries from being galloped on.'
Ferraris said he would head for the Champions Mile on May 6 with Sweet Orange in preference to the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup on April 29, and Weichong Marwing will retain the ride.
'I'm happy to avoid the really big horses in the QE II just at this stage,' he said. 'The injury is really only skin deep above the tendon but it looks ugly and needs to heal and the Champions Mile gives Sweet Orange an extra week.'
Bullish Champion, who set the walking pace of the classic, was also reported to have pulled up lame.
John Size reported nothing amiss with Fay Fay, but will 'wait and see' regarding the Derby winner's immediate future targets.
'He didn't exactly charge out of the box today looking for the next race,' Size said. 'He knew he'd had a race. He's been racing since the start of the season and done quite a lot to get to where he did on Sunday, so I'm not expecting he has a great deal more to give. And I won't be asking him to do any more for now, unless he shows me he can do it.'
In other news, the Jockey Club has asked the top New Zealand rider James McDonald to ride at the April 1 Sha Tin meeting. Moore said he had already booked McDonald, a rising star, for three mounts.