Dream barrier draws raise Hong Kong hopes for Singapore races
Trainer John Moore delighted to land four for Military Attack and pole position for Dan Excel
John Moore has earned himself big-race barrier draw duties for the rest of his career, while Caspar Fownes' abdication from the same role finally bore fruit as dream draws rained on the Hong Kong runners for Singapore's biggest race day.
Moore stepped up early in the post position lottery for the S$3 million (HK$18.7 million) Singapore Airlines International Cup yesterday, when most of the 13 barriers were still available, and plucked gate four for Military Attack - just one wider than the three draw the five-year-old had in winning the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup at Sha Tin last month - but the trainer topped that by grabbing the pole position for Dan Excel again.
"That's incredible - [owner] David Boehm is going to be so pleased I've drawn one for Dan Excel again, just like the Champions Mile," said Moore, who could barely contain his mirth at saddling up what will now be two of the major fancies for the race.
"Dan Excel's a horse who wants the one draw and can use it. To get it twice in a row in Group Ones is fantastic. And four is perfect for Military Attack. They'll get every chance."
But the trainer's sunny joy had to share a blue sky over Hong Kong's winning prospects at Kranji with counterpart Fownes and jockey Brett Prebble as Lucky Nine's travelling groom Phillip Chung - who appeared the only link to the horse in attendance - produced a four barrier for the sprinter in the KrisFlyer Sprint.
"He was due a good draw in one of these," said Prebble, who won on Sacred Kingdom in 2009, while Fownes, a winner with Green Birdie in 2010, was succinct. "Very happy. I'm confident Brett will get the job done from there," said the trainer, who has virtually barred himself from making big-race draws after a series of wide launch pads.
Perhaps more significant for Lucky Nine was the 10 draw out of 11 runners for top Australian galloper Bel Sprinter, whose get-back style will be more exaggerated from out there on a course that does run-ons no favours.
Top Singapore trainer Michael Freedman said the likely leaders were the wider drawn locals Emerald Hill (barrier 11), Goal Keeper (nine) and his runner-up from 2012, Mr Big (seven).
"My other horse, Super Easy, is versatile depending on the draw and speed, but with gate six I'd expect him to be sitting right behind the leaders," he said.
The Mike De Kock-trained Kavanagh was considered a leading chance before the draw and his prospects also firmed after landing gate three.
In contrast to Moore's pleasure after the draw for the 2,000m Cup, two of his main threats drew wide, Meandre (12) and German star Pastorius (11), while the Ed Dunlop-trained Red Cadeaux has a middle gate in seven.
"He'll slot in somewhere midfield I guess from there," said the globetrotter's regular handler, Robin Trevor-Jones.
The Cup pacesetters are expected to be locally trained Ready To Strike (gate three) and the David Hill-trained Flax (five), who led last year and held on for third at huge odds.
"That's disappointing. The horse is really well but I was hoping for a draw. I guess we'll have to ride for luck," said Dubai-based American trainer Doug Watson, who trains former French galloper Meandre for the president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, and the horse will race under the flag of Russia.