Time After Time's Royal Ascot trip hinges on Sha Tin Vase performance
Five-year-old's trip to Royal Ascot hinges on performance in Sha Tin Vase, Moore says
Time After Time's planned Royal Ascot raid next month is contingent on a strong performance in tomorrow's Sha Tin Vase, but trainer John Moore says he will not base his decision purely on the sprinter's finishing position.
Moore is gunning for his fourth straight win and eighth overall in the Group Three handicap, with a quartet of runners led by topweight Time After Time. But the gelding will have to lump 133 pounds, giving substantial weight away to a host of up-and-comers in a race where recent history shows it is hard for the higher-rated horses.
The trainer is hopeful of a placing for Time After Time, which would confirm a start in the Diamond Jubilee on June 22, but Moore is mindful of the factors stacked against his five-year-old, who has drawn perfectly in gate one for Gerald Mosse.
"We hope he finishes in the top three, sure, but you've got to take into consideration the handicap conditions and the weight he is carrying compared to some of the others," Moore said. "Throw his run pattern in there as well as he gets back and that doesn't really help, especially with respect to the weight he has to carry.
"We just have to weigh up the pros and cons of the run on the day … Maybe we will say - 'He ran a great race, all things considered'," he added. "If he runs the right race, we're off to the UK."
Only two of the past 12 winners have carried top weight, while seven of those have carried 120 pounds or less.
Moore's last two winners carried substantial weight, though - back-to-back winner Dim Sum carried 126 pounds two years ago and Captain Sweet lumped 131 last year. An out-of-form Captain Sweet (Weichong Marwing) carries five pounds less this year, and is joined by stablemates Frederick Engels (Zac Purton) and lightweight hope Charles The Great (Tommy Berry).
Of his team, Moore talked up Charles The Great, as yet untested against this level of opposition but carrying only 117 pounds. Of the other threats too, Moore pointed to the bottom end of the race and David Hall's Solar Great - undefeated this season and a winner of five straight.
"We have to look at it objectively, and you have some horses there who will be very hard to beat off their weights," he said "Even Captain Sweet is seven pounds better off than Time After Time, while Charles The Great is 16 pounds better off. His work has been great and he deserves his chance, although he has drawn 14. Solar Great is carrying an absolute postage stamp, 117 pounds with Douglas Whyte aboard. Throw in Go Baby Go with 123 as well and you've got a hell of a race."
Frederick Engels has finished unplaced at his last two starts, but Moore is confident the four-year-old has recovered after pulling up lame. "It was only a foot problem," he said. "After some corrective shoeing, we've checked him … and everything should be OK."