Pressure on John Moore-trained Military Attack in Gold Cup
Rival trainer Richard Gibson believes his charge Akeed Mofeed is primed to displace Horse of the Year
There are only seven runners in the HK$8 million Citibank Gold Cup at Sha Tin today and five of them come from the same training yard, but his two rival trainers believe the pressure is all on John Moore with Horse Of the Year, Military Attack.
Last year, the Gold Cup was the moment when Military Attack first emerged as a Group One force after Zac Purton changed his tactics to ride him forward, but today the six-year-old is looking for a different kind of turnaround after failing to win so far this season.
The first victim of that form drop was his jockey, with Purton now swapped for Joao Moreira as Moore looks for the key to switch Military Attack's winning ways back on.
In the meantime, Richard Gibson-trained Akeed Mofeed has taken over as the form glamour horse in town, with victories in the Hong Kong Cup and Centenary Vase and he has beaten Military Attack home in two of their three meetings.
"We are up against the reigning champion Military Attack, so that is always exciting but there is obviously a lot of pressure in their camp," said Gibson.
"The horse hasn't won for a long time now. There was a jockey change, so they are obviously feeling a bit of pressure with him."
Gibson has always held a strong opinion that Akeed Mofeed would ultimately displace Military Attack, or any other horse, at the top of the tree and believes this race is a defining moment in that process.
"We are looking forward to taking on the champ, because we feel it is time for the champ to roll over and we feel like we can take the title," he said.
He said he was not concerned about the pace in what looms as a very tactical Gold Cup.
Tony Cruz is bullish, too, that the underrated Blazing Speed is going to make life tough for both favourites and he has been even more versatile than either of the favourites in terms of past tactics.
"We will definitely be in the first three. If nobody wants to lead, we can lead," Cruz said.