She's no Caviar but Rose can bloom
A muck lather of perspiration and ubiquitous cigarette conceal the fact that Australian trainer Peter Moody is as comfortable and relaxed as he has probably been in some time approaching a Group One with a horse of the fairer sex.
In his homeland, Moody is ceaselessly hounded and pressed for his time as the trainer of world champion sprinter Black Caviar, so he welcomed the 'break' getting King's Rose ready for Sunday's BMW Champions Mile with just a handful of media people present.
Moody last came to Sha Tin in an active role 21 years ago, as the groom for Livistona Lane when he finished second to Kessem in one of the earliest international events, but he has been a regular visitor in December.
He had arrived overnight to watch his four-year-old mare go through her serious turf track work in the unseasonal heat yesterday morning, wiped his brow once or twice and admitted satisfaction with everything he had seen.
'She's had a look around, worked nice and I'm happy with her in general - she has coped well with the trip,' said Moody. 'She was on the right leg in her gallop but you'd expect that as she's had her last two runs in Sydney this way around and there was no problem there.'
A Group One winner in New Zealand at three, King's Rose - owned in Hong Kong by Dr Gene Tsoi Wai-wang and racing in the Elegant Fashion colours - has been unable to land a big one in Australia. The writing is all over the wall that there is one in her, though, as she has been placed at four of her past six outings, all in Group Ones.
'She won Group Twos her first two runs for me and she has been unlucky since - she always seems to be in the position where she is towing something else into the race and then they get up and just nut her,' Moody said. 'She finished seventh in the Cox Plate but, well, any sort of luck she should have gone close to winning that, too. And she's better at a mile.'
Lining up Group One horses from different jurisdictions is not always easy but Moody is taking confidence through the form of King's Rose against another of Australia's outstanding females, More Joyous.
'More Joyous would be favourite if she was running in the Champions Mile, wouldn't she?' Moody asked aloud.
'King's Rose ran third to her at Rosehill the other day but we rode her upside down on the day trying to get to the right part of the track and she ended up outside the lead, which is not her go, and she brought More Joyous into the race. Normally she would be midfield and running on.'
King's Rose bypassed some of the later Group Ones in the Sydney racing carnival to be here and the motivations were a mixture.
'Obviously, Gene lives here so it was always a thought to run her here, and we wanted to avoid the very wet tracks. When we had to make the call and scratch from the Doncaster a few days before, the track was heavy - it improved a lot by the race but we had to make our decision early so King's Rose could get back to Melbourne to make the flight for here,' Moody explained.
'And the other reason she's here is that we've always had an idea to take her to Europe and it breaks the trip up for her. We're taking Black Caviar anyway so it isn't putting us out to take King's Rose as well. There are a couple of nice races there for her as long as she shows us on Sunday what we want to see. I want to see her win the race and I think she can - we aren't here because we need the practice - but if she doesn't win I think we have to see her run well to keep on going to Europe,' Moody said.