Able Friend can follow in Designs On Rome's footsteps, says John Moore
Trainer is confident his improving star will be hard to beat in Sunday's Champions Mile
Trainer John Moore believes Designs On Rome's QE II Cup win confirms his long-held belief that stablemate Able Friend is an international Group One horse in waiting - but Sunday's HK$12 million Champions Mile might be the only test of that viewpoint for this campaign.
Moore revealed on Wednesday that tackling the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 17 is a long shot even if the Derby runner-up gives him a fifth straight Champions Mile.
"Able Friend has had quite the campaign throughout the season, but it all depends on how he comes through the Champions Mile," Moore said on Wednesday.
"I'll sit down with the owner later in the week, but I'd say it's a long shot and, apart from Singapore, there's a fair chance none of my horses will travel elsewhere for the rest of the season."
Moore's sole focus now is on the Group One Champions Mile.
"With Able Friend, we are talking about another horse which is in the same bracket as Designs On Rome," Moore said.
"Everybody was saying, 'You had Designs On Rome peaking for Derby Day, can you keep him going until the QE II Cup?'
"And Designs On Rome has come out and run an even better race than in the Derby: if we can take any guide on that you'd have to think this horse is going into the Champions Mile even fitter, even more focused and even more physically prepared. He's the one to beat."
Unlike Designs On Rome, who went straight from the BMW Hong Kong Derby to the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup, Able Friend has run since, producing an effortless victory against four rivals in the Chairman's Trophy (1,600m), which served more as a barrier trial than a hard test.
"When Karis Teetan got off after the Chairman's Trophy, he said, 'Do you realise this horse is 20 lengths better now than when I last won on him?' - that's where I want him to be.
"That means he's not only improved physically, but he's also improved mentally and he's got up to the grade that we hoped - that of an international Group One horse in the making."
Moore's Champions Mile tally is at five, including the last four in a row with Able One (2007, 2010), Xtension (2011, 2012) and Dan Excel (2013).
Although he rates Able Friend as his main hope, he was not dismissing the chances of the somewhat forgotten Dan Excel.
"The owner, David Boehm, has always reminded me that Dan Excel is the forgotten horse," he said.
"He's as genuine as the day is long. The other horse is more in the limelight, but Dan Excel did it last year, and he could win it again if Able Friend doesn't bring his A-game on the day."
But he admitted: "Able Friend is definitely the better chance - he's got tonnes of ability and there's still more to come."
Moore identified South Africa's Variety Club as the main danger. "I just have to hope that Variety Club doesn't bring his best," he said.