Able Friend can break Classic Cup hoodoo, says trainer
John Moore feels his stable star will step up and win Sunday's feature to end an appalling record for favourites in the race
Even an appalling record for favourites in the race cannot dampen John Moore's enthusiasm to see Able Friend step out again in Sunday's Group One Classic Cup (1,800m) - and the trainer doubts the horse's talented stablemates will trouble him.
Moore will send out five of the 14 runners in the second of the four-year-old classics, with Able Friend, Designs On Rome, Flagship Shine, Secret Sham and Travel Brother, but he expects Able Friend to head the market and the race result after his brilliant Classic Mile victory.
"Able Friend is the real deal - I would rate him one of the better horses I've ever trained since I took out my licence in 1985," Moore said.
"He'll get the 1,800m on his head. Maybe Designs On Rome might get a little closer to him over the extra 200m, but I would think the major difference between this race and the Classic Mile will be that Joao Moreira might have to give Able Friend a couple of slaps with the whip, just to remind him to get to the line.
"Able Friend tends to switch off when he's clear, so I'll ask Joao just to keep him focused."
The Classic Cup is a relatively new race, with only eight prior runnings, but it has been an upset contest, with Floral Pegasus the only favourite to have won; the four-year-old, which ultimately won the Derby has been defeated in the race five of the six times the Derby winner lined up.
But it has not really been a hoodoo race for Moore: he trained the two Derby winners who did not run in the Classic Cup, Viva Pataca and Collection.
Red-hot beaten favourites include Thumbs Up, Beauty Flash, Lucky Nine and Fay Fay. Last year was the biggest upset of all, with It Has To Be You winning at 125-1.
Gold-Fun and Akeed Mofeed, third and first in the Derby, went around as the first two choices in betting and were beaten. "I'm not worried about any of those sorts of fallacies," said Moore.
"I'm very confident about Able Friend and my team in general. With the Derby now on the horizon, they are all 100 per cent fit and I can't knock the preparations of any of them."
Moore said the tactics of Douglas Whyte on Flagship Shine will be the opposite of the Classic Mile, when the gelding went forward and overraced badly.
"He'll be ridden completely differently and the winkers come off.
"I tinkered with a hood in his work, but Douglas said the horse became too laid back so he'll wear a crossed nose band and the idea will be to switch him off right away and see if he can run the 1,800m like that," Moore explained.
He added that all five runners would continue to the Derby regardless of Sunday's results.
"I guess a couple of them might be better suited at a mile, but when owners ask you to go out and buy them a Derby horse, they want to run in the Derby.
"So that's what they'll do and then we'll look at other directions for them after that."