Kranji draw elicits mixed reception from Hong Kong trainers ahead of Sunday
Lucky Nine in gate two for Caspar Fownes, but John Moore is relying on Joao Moreira's magic to do the trick
Ailing trainer Caspar Fownes' spirits received a boost on Thursday when Lucky Nine drew favourably for his shot at back-to-back KrisFlyer Sprints - but his rival John Moore was left to rely on the "magic of Moreira" and wish he could swap the starting positions of his two runners in the Singapore International Airlines Cup.
Fownes was admitted to hospital in Hong Kong on Wednesday night with high blood pressure and was undergoing tests as "lucky" stable staff ensured Lucky Nine drew gate two and left Moore's pre-draw race favourite, Sterling City, to jump widest of the field in barrier 10.
The contrasting draws for Hong Kong's four runners in Sunday's feature races at Kranji continued when Moore's pair - Military Attack and Dan Excel, who were first and second in the race last year - drew 10 and one respectively.
"It's a race where drawing a gate is important and that's a lovely draw," Fownes said, before detailing the health issues that saw him taken by ambulance to hospital from the Happy Valley races on Wednesday.
"I'm feeling much better today, but my blood pressure was 207 over 103 when I saw the nurse at Happy Valley and she told me I should go to hospital immediately. I'm getting a lot of tests done - an MRI, kidney and brain scans, an ECG. It's not the first time this has happened and my body is obviously trying to tell me something," he said.
Lucky Nine drew gate four last year, bounced handily and box-seating, before blasting the field away to give Fownes his second win in the race after Green Birdie's victory in 2010.
Fownes moved to blinkers last start with Lucky Nine in an effort to get the gelding to jump on terms, but has opted to remove the headgear on Sunday after he felt the seven-year-old travelled too keenly in trackwork.
Joao Moreira is booked to ride both of Moore's runners and is hoping the Brazilian can make use of his "local knowledge" when the four-time Singapore champion makes a homecoming of sorts this weekend.
"We've got the magician on board and this track is like his back yard, so we will leave it up to him," Moore said. "He knows the other jockeys back-to-front as well. It's a huge help to have him on in this situation."
Military Attack and Dan Excel drew similar starting positions last year - Military Attack jumped from eight and Dan Excel was on barrier one.
"Hopefully, we get the same result again. It has a similar look about it and they are both in great form and they peak at this time of year," Moore said.
"I kind of wish I could switch the gates though. Dan Excel has got great gate speed and would be able to better overcome a draw like that. Military Attack will probably still be up near midfield, maybe a little better, and if he is three deep with cover he is still going to unleash that burst we know he has and I still think he is the one to beat."
In other news, John Size-trained Glorious Days is Hong Kong's only remaining entrant in the Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo on June 8. The Hong Kong Mile winner has finished 14th and 11th from two attempts at the race.