John Moore seeks Group One glory in Golden Shaheen
Trainer who has done almost everything looks to Frederick Engels in the Golden Shaheen for his first Group One race victory on foreign soil
John Moore might be relatively reserved when he collects just another, run-of-the-mill cup race at Sha Tin -he has done it all at home after all, 1,300-plus wins, six trainers' premierships and multiple big- race triumphs ensure an overflowing trophy cabinet.
But expect a little extra oomph in his celebration, and maybe a fist pump or two, if Frederick Engels can cap the trainer's career with a long-awaited overseas Group One in the US$2 million Golden Shaheen.
What better place for Moore to do it than on the world's richest race night - a meeting boasting more than US$27 million in prize money that could deliver some surprises for a small but spirited Hong Kong contingent.
Eagle Regiment seems to have made a miraculous recovery from an injured hoof and should take his place in the US$1million Al Quoz Sprint with Joy And Fun - who is having his last run in a race.
The monkey on Moore's back has grown as big as the massive Meydan grandstand. Despite his overwhelming domestic success, he is yet to win a Group One on foreign soil, and the clock is ticking for the just-turned 63-year-old to do it as a Hong Kong-based horseman.
"I don't get carried away at home when I win a big race - although I can assure you there is a lot of excitement and inner satisfaction. But I might not be able to contain myself and there will be some emotion if Frederick Engels can win," he said.
"This is the missing piece for my career - an offshore Group One, if we can do that, then mission accomplished."
Moore is zero from four at Meydan. The closest he came was in 2008 with Viva Pataca - who drew wide and was runner-up to a red-hot Sun Classique in the Sheema Classic.
"We thought we had the right horse that time, so we know how tough it is," Moore said. "This is our best chance to win that elusive Group One - we've got a horse that is blossoming and he is about to take that next big step. Everything seems to be falling into place. Now it's up to the jockey, and he knows the place well."
Only three jockeys have more wins in thoroughbred races on World Cup night than Frederick Engels' jockey Weichong Marwing's four, and they are the irrepressible Frankie Dettori, and Hall of Fame American riders Gary Stevens and Jerry Bailey.
All of Marwing's wins have been for his countryman Mike de Kock, and they combine in the Godolphin Mile with Rerouted, the trainer saddling up four runners including leading hope Soft Falling Rain.
Eagle Regiment seemed certain to be scratched from the Al Quoz for the second straight year, but Manfred Man Ka-leung's team have worked tirelessly to bring the horse back from the brink, and he is drawn to face Derek Cruz's Joy And Fun - a horse who has experienced some medical ordeals of his own. A win as a nine-year-old would be a fairytale achievement for a horse that has twice overcome what are usually career-ending injuries.
Cruz's son Trevor has flown in from New Zealand for the race; he had to nurse the horse back to health after a leg fracture at Royal Ascot in 2010.
"We had to teach him to walk again, but we weren't thinking he would race again, we were just trying to keep him alive," Cruz said.
Joy And Fun's jockey Tye Angland rides at Meydan for the first time and had a light-hearted take on the 1,000m straight race: "He has been here twice, and I've never been here, so maybe he will be showing me the way."
Looking to spoil the party for Hong Kong in the Al Quoz will be Zac Purton, riding Mr Big for Singapore-based trainer Michael Freedman.
Freedman said he "could have called basically anyone in the world for the ride", but called the Australian first.
"Zac has won big races and an overseas Group One up the straight at Ascot - the ride was open to anyone but I thought he was the best choice," he said.
The US$10 million World Cup headlines the meeting - with most of the focus on Animal Kingdom, the first Kentucky Derby winner in the Middle East.
The huge Japanese press corps following US$5 million Sheema Classic favourite Gentildonna won't hear of her being beaten, while the Hong Kong-owned, New Zealand-trained Ocean Park begins an ambitious campaign in the US$5 million Dubai Duty Free (1,800m).