Ageing star Military Attack was "pain-free" for the right two minutes at Sha Tin yesterday to throw off the problems that have held him back for most of the past year and throw down his Longines Hong Kong Cup credentials.
Trainer Caspar Fownes said that training Military Attack in the past year had been a tremendously difficult assignment and with so much expectation on the former horse of the year.
"He's had so many problems. Last season, it was his feet that weren't right and this season he's had issue with his right front fetlock joint and suspensory," Fownes explained after the Jockey Club Cup win.
"The vets and the whole team at the stable put in hours to get him right and get to the races in shape. The staff ice him, hose him and walk him constantly to keep his fitness up so it isn't easy. But what we do know is that engine is still very good - just keeping him pain-free is the key."
Military Attack (Zac Purton) reversed the decision from the same race last year, when he was beaten a head by yesterday's runner-up Blazing Speed (Neil Callan), and Purton hopes he can do the same on international day.
"He was just nosed out by Designs On Rome last year, so I hope he can go a head better in three weeks' time," he said. "He's a horse I've been riding for the last two years, on and off, so he's close to my heart and it's great to see him win again.
"He performed well last season, but it was no secret Caspar had trouble with the horse's feet. I thought he would win today, but the race didn't didn't pan out as I'd have hoped - I would prefer to come outside with him and let him travel up, but he was stuck inside and just had to wait for a run. But he showed that great turn of foot and got himself out of trouble."
Fownes said the five-pound allowance Military Attack received under the conditions of yesterday's race was vital, but there was more fitness to come.
"Considering how I have to train him, he will come on for the international but, in saying that, so will the second horse Blazing Speed and we had the luxury of getting five pounds off him,' said Fownes.
Neil Callan said the five-pound allowance made all the difference: "Put simply, without the five pounds, I win the race and he won't have that international day."
His stablemate, third placed Beauty Only (Gerald Mosse), was on trial to go to the 2,000m of the Hong Kong Cup and passed that test with a strong finishing third.
"There's no question for me, he got the trip. Today it was hard to come from behind and he was the only one making a lot of ground," said Mosse.
John Moore likewise was very happy with Helene Happy Star (fourth) and Dominant (fifth), who will switch to the Vase over 2,400m on December 13: "Dominant was eyecatching and should have finished closer, I thought, while Helene Happy Star ran a bit keenly and he'll improve. They both want the extra 400m, too."