Delight for John Moore … and the taxman
Champions Mile success would help push trainer to a record of real substance in domestic prize money for Group One races
Perhaps the only man cheering louder than John Moore if Able Friend or Dan Excel wins today's HK$12 million Champions Mile will be the taxman, as the trainer reaches for the best Group One season of his career and piles up a stake money record for the ages.
When Designs On Rome won the QE II Cup last week and Military Attack finished second, Moore smashed through Tony Cruz's 2004-05 domestic prize money benchmark of just under HK$114 million.
With a tally now nearing HK$118 million - and the favourites in the two remaining Group Ones, on Sunday and in the Champions & Chater Cup - he has plenty of belief he can leave a record of real substance.
"If we won both of those and pushed it over HK$130 million, that would be something - and I'm sure the taxman would be just as pleased with my season as I am," Moore said on Saturday.
"My level of confidence for Sunday is very high - I have two very fit horses. Able Friend put on some weight since the Derby, but that's a good thing.
"The win the other day was ideal because he didn't have to have a hard run and it topped him off nicely. He looks well, worked well.
"The only negative is the tricky draw. Everything else is on schedule.
"And don't forget Dan Excel - he comes good this time of the year as he did when he won this race in 2013 and I've just been to see him with his owner, David Boehm, and the horse has never looked better."
Moore has twice trained six Group One winners in a season - in 2008-09 and this term - and is looking for a personal best in his preferred area of competency if he can equal Cruz's 2003-04 record of seven.
"I think it will be a while, and an expanded calendar, before anyone gets near Tony's 91 winners in a season, but my preference is to win the most prize money not the most winners. In many places, that's how the champion trainer is decided," Moore said.
Champion jockey Douglas Whyte, who has topped HK$100 million in stakes himself in the past two seasons as the only rider to have done so, needs to win only a couple of support races to push his Hong Kong career prize money through HK$1.3 billion on Sunday.
But a less obscure personal best would be a fourth Group One for the term if Gold-Fun was successful in the feature.
Visiting Champions Mile runners, Variety Club, Meiner Lacrima, Mshawish and Gordon Lord Byron, meanwhile, will themselves be looking to climb what history says is a steep hill - from 26 previous Champions Mile visitors, just two have been placed and none successful.
For a race that carries the tag "international" and holds a place in the world's top 50 races, the lack of competitive foreign horses has stuck out.
But John Size, who was responsible for the biggest upset in the event with 64-1 victor Sight Winner five years ago, is one local trainer who fears their time has come.