John Moore has his eyes on racing's richest purse after Horse of the Year Military Attack was elevated into the Dubai World Cup field on Tuesday, giving Hong Kong two horses in the US$10 million race for the first time.
Military Attack was initially invited for the US$5 million Dubai Duty Free, but after a dominant last-start win and a request from trainer Moore, he will now face Richard Gibson's Akeed Mofeed at Meydan on March 29.
After a three-length victory in last month's Group One Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup, Moore said Military Attack was a "live chance" in the 2,000m event.
"We're obviously thrilled to have a runner in the World Cup - and if we draw a gate, and the horse travels like he did when we went to Singapore last year, then he is capable of winning it," Moore said.
Bullish Luck (2008) and Indigenous (2000) are the only other Hong Kong-trained horses to have taken part in the race.
"It's an honour for us and for Hong Kong racing," Moore said. "It's been a while since we have had a horse run in the race, so to have two shows that the quality of horseflesh [here] at the moment is of a very high standard."
Up to eight Hong Kong-trained runners - three of them Moore's - will be heading to the glitzy night-time meeting.
Tony Cruz-trained Group One Stewards' Cup winner Blazing Speed will now run in the Dubai Duty Free. Moore's team also includes Dominant (Sheema Classic) and Sterling City (Golden Shaheen) - with Joao Moreira to ride all of his three. Joy And Fun and Amber Sky contest the Al Quoz Sprint, while Rich Tapestry will attempt to gain a start in the Golden Shaheen by running in Saturday's Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal at Meydan.
In other news, Kiwi gun-for-hire James McDonald will be flown in to ride Mr Gnocchi in the HK$16 million Group One BMW Hong Kong Derby on Sunday week.
The Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained and Dr Gene Tsoi Wai-wang-owned Mr Gnocchi is rated 94 and assured of a place in the 14-horse field that will be announced on Wednesday at Happy Valley.
McDonald has linked up with Tsoi previously, riding King's Rose to victory in New Zealand and has had success on fly-in, fly-out missions before at Sha Tin, taking the 2012 Group One Champions Mile on Xtension.
"He looks a nice progressive horse," McDonald said of Mr Gnocchi. "They called me up and asked me to have a look at his last few runs, and while I think John Moore's two main horses will be hard to beat, my horse was finding the line really well two starts back and finished off OK in an on-pace dominated race last start. I think he is in with a runner's chance."
McDonald also looks like picking up the ride on either Frederick Engels or Charles The Great in the Group One Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup on the same day for Moore, who hopes to have four Derby runners.
"Designs On Rome, Able Friend and Secret Sham are obviously there and their jockeys remain unchanged," Moore said. "We are hoping for a run with Travel Brother - he is rated 89, so he is right on the bubble.
"We'll leave that up to the selection committee, and if he does get in, Brett Prebble will ride," Moore added.
Meantime, stewards have facilitated the transfer of embattled apprentice Alvin Ng Ka-chun from Dennis Yip Chor-hong to Tony Cruz, in an effort to spark his ailing career.