Trainer Moore hoping his big guns start firing on all cylinders
Group One success proving elusive this season, but weight of numbers may tell in Gold Cup
It hasn't been due to a lack of numbers, but John Moore is yet to win a Group One race this season, something the big-race specialist will attempt to put right when he saddles more than half the field for this weekend's Hong Kong Gold Cup.
Moore will have six of the 11 horses in Sunday's HK$6 million feature at Sha Tin, but his sextet face the mammoth task of upsetting Horse of the Year candidate California Memory.
"It's just one of those seasons where everything hasn't fallen into place, but we still think it will and it might only take one race to get the ball rolling," Moore said. "If California Memory doesn't come out at his best, then I can see one of my six winning."
More than one-third of the locally trained runners to contest the nine Group One events this term have been from the Moore yard - 31 in total - but he is yet to taste success. The perpetual prize-money leader has even been knocked off his perch as the highest earner so far - he sits in third behind John Size and Tony Cruz in stake money won.
"We're doing all right. We are right there with those two and they've trained more winners. Our horses have still won more than HK$43 million," Moore said.
"But with the numbers we've got in Class One and Two, then I expect to be leading that category."
Xtension, Dan Excel and Zaidan will all be on trial for overseas expeditions and stablemates Military Attack, Irian and Same World will join that trio in the 2,000m weight-for-age event.
Xtension has been a major disappointment this term, but Moore believes the booking of Douglas Whyte to ride the two-time Champions Mile winner is a vote of confidence.
"He is back in form, but I just hope he can draw a gate this time," he said. "We believe those soundness issues are behind him and I think we would like to go back to Dubai next month if we won the Gold Cup. His run there last year was full of merit."
Neil Callan has been given another chance on Dan Excel, who Moore hopes to take to the Singapore Gold Cup, along with last year's runner-up in that race, Zaidan (Olivier Doleuze).
"Dan Excel has taken the next step and he is going to prove hard to beat. He stands a big chance of knocking off a big race if he continues in this rich vein of form," Moore said. "Zaidan has had his problems at the gates, but they seem behind him and his trials have been good."
Jockeys' championship leader Zac Purton has attracted the ride on Military Attack, Tim Clark will ride Same World and Tom Queally has been booked for Irian.