Moore hoping Xtension will put best foot forward
John Moore confirmed overseas trips for two of his stars yesterday, but on Sunday his focus will be squarely on "Champions Mile specialist" Xtension attempting to win the race for the third straight time.
Kiwi jockey James McDonald will be reunited with Xtension at the request of Steven Lo Kit-sing, with the owner's other star, Military Attack, headed to Singapore later this month, while stablemate Time After Time will head to Royal Ascot in June if he runs well next start.
Xtension has won only twice from 20 starts for Moore, which might be considered a disappointing record had those races not been international Group Ones and the horse not collected more than HK$28.5 million in prize money.
Xtension has been placed once in his last five starts but has been battling a bacterial infection and leg problems.
"We've lightened him off a bit and the trackwork riders feel as though he has never been better. Maybe it is just this time of the year that he hits top form, and having the services of the brilliant James McDonald will certainly help him," Moore said.
"In that early part of the season, his infection was pretty serious and it took a toll on his form. It took a long time to get him back to where we want him and we are hoping that Sunday will be the day where we get him back to his form of last season."
Moore has two other runners in the race, Admiration, with Tye Angland to ride, and the consistent Dan Excel (Weichong Marwing), who is coming off a second to Packing Whiz in the Group Two Chairman's Trophy. "Dan Excel is flying and if things go his way he has got to be a chance," Moore said. "He is versatile. He can lead, box seat or just sit off them a little bit. He can do it tough early and he will still dig deep in the straight.
"He is a genuine chance. I understand Dan Excel is also on the reserve list for Singapore, and the owner is keen to go, so if he was invited we would go."
Moore said Military Attack was a definite for the Singapore Airlines International Cup on May 19, where he will clash with Tony Cruz's Pure Champion and Zaidan, the runner-up last year.
Trainer Caspar Fownes also indicated Lucky Nine would travel to Singapore for the KrisFlyer Sprint on the same night at Kranji. Lucky Nine scoped with blood in his trachea after his run in the Sprint Cup on Sunday.
"He looks well in himself. He has shown blood on many occasions in the past but still been able to perform well and win," Fownes said.
"We'll take our chances because it will be his last run for the season."
Moore said Time After Time would run in the Sha Tin Vase on May 26 and was almost certain to head to the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 22.