Military Attack ready to strike once again in Jockey Club Cup
It is just over a year since Military Attack last won a race but the HK$4 million Longines Jockey Club Cup (2,000m) today at Sha Tin looks the right set-up to change that and put him into the international picture.
Military Attack (Zac Purton) won the Sha Tin Trophy in late October last year at his first run for Caspar Fownes and didn't find the winner's circle again in five more starts for the season.
But those runs included close seconds in this race, in the Hong Kong Cup and then it's no secret Fownes was battling niggling issues as Military Attack still ran respectably in the Gold Cup and QE II Cup. He closed the season arguably unlucky to be beaten in Singapore by Dan Excel.
All of which is to say that, although he hasn't been winning, Military Attack has been running well in the best races and that lack of a Group One win for a year gets him into this race receiving the five-pound allowance from Blazing Speed (Neil Callan) and Helene Super Star.
And there wasn't a lot wrong with his third in the Sha Tin Trophy first-up - a race won from the front by Contentment, chased by the big finish of Beauty Only (Gerald Mosse).
The first two had race fitness on their side and Military Attack was outsprinted anyway but shouldered his 133 pounds well into third. He meets Beauty Only 14 pounds better, will be in front of him in the run again and has no problems with the 2,000m.
The seven-year-old moved fluently in his turf gallop last Saturday, suggesting there are no issues right now and the race lays out perfectly for him.
If unreliable Khaya (Nash Rawiller) jumps, he should lead and Helene Super Star, often ridden handy at these trips, should be working to second.
But there is no reason to think the pace will be strong and that means that Blazing Speed, Beauty Only and Helene Happy Star (Joao Moreira) will be giving a start to Military Attack, an advantage the former horse of the year still looks capable of using.
Beauty Only has a turn of foot and looks a danger but the doubts are his position in the run, as he may have to settle down last from the outside gate, and 2,000m. The gate looks a sticky point, the distance only a query. When he was comfortably held in the Derby, it was a very fast race and the the gelding was having his seventh run of the campaign.
He had been ready to win at 1,600m on the first weekend in October so, more than five months later, the Derby might have come too late to show off his best and he has fresher legs today.