Double delight as Moore muscles in on spotlight
John Moore played a cameo in the Douglas Whyte blockbuster - his two winners bookending the card with the champion jockey aboard - the first of them the culmination of a long-term plan that brought back memories of when the trainer was "King of the griffin races".
Griffin contests aren't as common on the Hong Kong Jockey Club racing calendar these days, but there was a time when Moore was renowned for dominating the early season editions. And when Moore saw Kynam for the first time - after son George selected the yearling at the Magic Millions Sales in Australia and owner Paul Kan Man Lok paid A$180,000 (HK$1.45 million) for the son of Bernadini - the trainer declared then the colt would win the first griffin contest.
"When we bought him we could see that he already had the right physical make up to win the first griffin race and we had that in our mind then. That's how far out we thought we could win this race," Moore said.
A suspension to Weichong Marwing opened the opportunity for Whyte to ride the gelding and some persuasion from Moore made sure he took it.
"John was really aggressive and bullish about him," Whyte said.
The only near hiccups in Moore's master plan was a failed barrier trial that forced the horse back to the trials last Tuesday, which was easily overcome, and had the added bonus of increasing his race fitness. And then, during the race, when Kynam was nearly scared out of the plum position against the grandstand rail. Race favourite You Read My Mind (Brett Prebble) was racing greenly outside of Kynam, but Whyte eventually coaxed his mount into the gap during the critical middle stages.
"To me that was the only 'iffy' part of the race was when he had me tight on the rail and my horse was a bit funny about going into that gap," Whyte said. "But once he was in there, he was a lot more comfortable."
Kynam was comfortable enough to burst away to win by 31/4 lengths with something in hand at the end - scoring at surprising odds of 12-1.
Moore and Whyte's second winner, Secret Sham, continued in a progressive manner when he stepped up to 1,400m for the first time, winning for the second time in three starts.
The only worry for Whyte on the son of Shamardal as he went for the final leg of his six-timer was some pre-race excitement for the horse.
"I was concerned going to the gates, he was a little bit on the bit. I was worried that would carry over into the race, but it didn't," Whyte said. "When he cut loose, he got there very quickly like good horses can do."