Sky's the limit after sizzling turf trial
Ricky-Yiu trained four-year-old 'breaks rivals into pieces' to boost hopes for Hong Kong's eight-horse raid on world's richest race night in Dubai
A blistering barrier trial by Amber Sky has raised expectations ahead of Hong Kong's eight-horse raid on the world's richest race night - the Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained speedball "breaking his rivals into pieces" in one of two specially convened turf trials at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning.
Joao Moreira will ride four of the eight runners on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan on March 29, including Amber Sky in the US$1 million Al Quoz Sprint.
The Brazilian rider was a mere passenger as the four-year-old showed startling acceleration early in a 1,000m heat. Despite being under heavy restraint by Moreira, Amber Sky opened up a massive margin against his overmatched opposition in the middle stages, before cruising to the line in an impressive manner.
"He just broke them into pieces and showed how good he is - I hope he takes that condition to Dubai. I couldn't be happier with the trial," Moreira said.
"He wasn't pressed - I was holding him together and going as slow as I could, but he was going as fast as he wanted. That's the kind of trial that gives connections confidence, and jockeys most of all. I can't wait to get there, I'm sure we are going to have some fun and hopefully we can bring some prize money home."
Moreira also rides the John Moore-trained trio Sterling City (US$2 million Golden Shaheen), Dominant (US$5 million Sheema Classic) and Military Attack (US$10 million Dubai World Cup).
Moreira rode Military Attack in a five-horse 1,600m trial that also included Dominant - with Neil Callan keeping the saddle warm - Tony Cruz's Blazing Speed (US$5 million Dubai Duty Free) and fellow Dubai World Cup entrant Akeed Mofeed. Blazing Speed, with Matthew Chadwick filling in for race-night rider Mirco Demuro, led all the way in the trial as the field settled into single file behind him. Military Attack got to the line only fairly in fourth, but Moreira gave the reigning Horse of the Year a "pass".
"He didn't trial the best of the bunch," Moreira admitted. "But he trialled well enough to please me. That was the same sort of trial as what he produced before the Hong Kong Gold Cup - and we saw what he did there, he won easily. When it comes to a big race like that, John will step the horse up to another level.
"I am very confident he can go another length better. But we need the horse at his best for a race like that."
Moore said his four horses were "right where I want them to be" before their departure on Friday week, including Dominant, who finished last. "He is a thick-winded horse who needs the work, and he will come on for that," Moore said. "We need to leave something there for travel and when we get there we can do some serious work to have them right on the day."
Richard Gibson's Akeed Mofeed has been his own worst enemy in races previously when pulling too hard behind a slow tempo, and although jockey Douglas Whyte admitted the massive entire "travelled keen the whole way around", he was unconcerned.
"That's just a sign of a horse that is feeling good and thriving in his work," he said. "And that sort of workout will blow the wind out of his sails a little bit. He trialled as good as ever and felt terrific."