Leave Zaidan and Irian out at your peril, Moore warns
John Moore may be down on numbers compared to his recent assaults on middle-distance Group One features, but the big-race trainer still fancies his chances with two runners in Sunday's Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup.
Moore has had no less than four horses in each of the five Hong Kong Group Ones held this season between 1,600 metres and 2,000m. Despite being armed only with a pair of outsiders this weekend, the trainer is still high on his prospects, rating four-year-old Zaidan ahead of Irian, a perennial placegetter at this level.
'Zaidan is really in a purple patch of form,' Moore said. 'His fourth in the Derby was very good, as he was three wide without cover. I've impressed upon Olivier [Doleuze] to do his very best to get cover this time, to get him to settle better, because we know he has got a turn of foot.
'If he can draw a gate, I think he has a bit better chance than Irian on form.'
Irian hasn't won for more than a year and has finished in the top three in four of his eight runs at the top level since.
'He won the Jockey Club Cup and after that, when he was second to Snow Fairy in the Hong Kong Cup, he looked to have the world at his feet,' Moore said. 'We took him to Singapore, were he got cluttered back, but got to the line well. With a longer straight he may have won. But lately his form has been a bit lacklustre.'
The problems for Irian of late have been due to 'speedy cuts' - the horse striking his front legs with his hind legs at a full gallop - something Moore hopes corrective shoeing has remedied.
'He had hammered his off fore joint and it was causing him a lot of discomfort. With the horse being a bit of a sook, he just wasn't putting in,' Moore said. 'It seems better now and [jockey] Tim Clark has been happy with him in work.'
The Aidan O'Brien-trained Treasure Beach didn't come out of the quarantine stables yesterday, but the other three international entries all galloped. Rulership was the most impressive, the Japanese stayer working strongly in his first turf outing over 1,200m, with a final 400m in a slick 22.2 seconds, while Viscount Nelson was far more leisurely in his 1,400m canter, clicked up to finish in 26.6.
French raider Chinchon is a seasoned traveller and was fourth in the 2009 QEII Cup, but still seemed agitated when he was given a 'parade ring test' before his all-weather track workout.
Chinchon's handler, Stephane Duprey, played down the horse's antics, saying: 'Chinchon was a little bit on his toes but that's nothing to be concerned about. He had no problem with the parade ring the last time he was here and he is doing well.'