John Moore confident of more Singapore success
Trainer returns to scene where he broke his 17-year overseas jinx, convinced Military Attack and Dan Excel can finish 1-2 in Lion City again
It is nearly one year to the day since John Moore smashed his 17-year overseas jinx on a spectacular night in Singapore and now he has "found the formula" for foreign success he believes he can add to another special moment for Hong Kong at the same fixture.
Hong Kong-trained horses fill the top two spots in betting in both international features on Sunday night at Kranji and three of them are Moore's, with Caspar Fownes-trained Lucky Nine likely to jump favourite as defending champion in the KrisFlyer International Sprint.
When Moore-trained pair Military Attack and Dan Excel ran one-two in the 2013 Singapore Airlines International Cup, it was the trainer's first Group One success outside of his adopted home and set the scene for a prolific 12 months for the trainer. It started a sequence of big race successes beyond even Moore's usual high standards, breaking prize money records domestically, and adding another international Group One in Dubai with Sterling City.
Moore has returned with last year's cup quinella, and has Sterling City chasing rich bonus money against Lucky Nine in the sprint.
"It took us quite a few years to win one, but now we seem to have worked it out," Moore said. "We have the right system in place, and maybe we've just got better horses now, but I think the key is that we have horses that can travel. On that score, we've got three horses here in great form and that are all now proven travellers. I'm confident in the cup and Sterling City's biggest threat will be Lucky Nine - especially from his low draw."
Lucky Nine drew barrier two - from where he could replicate the box-seat run that led to him dismantling his opposition 12 months ago, if of course, the gelding doesn't miss the start - as he has at times throughout his brilliant career.
"That is so crucial - hopefully he jumps well and he can be right in the race from the outset," said Fownes, who has been cleared to fly to Singapore after a midweek health scare.
"We've obviously got a lot of respect for Sterling City, he's the up and coming horse, but we're there to defend the title so let's see what happens."
Fownes has elected to take blinkers off Lucky Nine after a solitary start in the headgear and jockey Brett Prebble believes it is a good move.
"I thought it was a good idea by Caspar to put them on and sharpen him up, and even though he worked brilliantly with them on, he probably overdid it a touch," the jockey said.
While Dan Excel has drawn the same inside barrier he jumped from last year to grab second, Moore's other two runners have barrier 10 to deal with - both of them ridden by Joao Moreira - the wide draw more of a problem for Sterling City in the sprint than the versatile Military Attack in the longer event.
"You couldn't ask for a better barrier for Dan Excel, the same as last year, he just grinds and grinds and will be right there at the finish," Moore said.
"The barriers for the other two are obviously a concern, but we have the right man for the job in Moreira.
"As I've said all through the week, his local knowledge will be crucial. Having a rider like that on just fills you with confidence ahead of a big race."
Moore said his team had all thrived in the warm conditions since arriving as his trio worked out at Kranji.