Local dominance of the interport races continued when John Moore picked up the Hong Kong Macau Trophy with Dashing Fellow as part of a huge day for him and Zac Purton, but the horse in the runner-up’s stall was just as important for the future of the event.
The pairing of Moore and Purton is an occasional partnership and sometimes a tempestuous clash of personalities but there’s no doubting their success together and they combined for three of Moore’s four victories, including the feature as Dashing Fellow landed his sixth win over the Sha Tin 1,400m.
For the first time in recent memory, the Macau-trained visitors didn’t take up the front-running role and it probably cost Macau victory in the race.
“It was actually my plan to let the speed go, but Dashing Fellow bounced out fast and the others were a bit sluggish to get going,” Purton said.
“So Dashing Fellow’s pattern has been to lead when he can and I thought I got there without having to kill him and I was pretty happy with where I was, at least until approaching the home straight, when Super Lifeline came up and put the screws to me early. My horse gave a good kick but he was out on his feet the last 50m.”
And that was when Joe Lau-trained The Alfonso was making his charge to get within a neck of the first interport victory for a visitor to Sha Tin in six years, and the first in four years on either side of the Pearl River delta.
Taipa-trained horses have struggled to even get into the prize money on many occasions and there were people questioning the worth of the interport events at all, and The Alfonso might have breathed a little life back into them.
“He would have preferred a faster pace but I have to be happy running second to a good horse like Dashing Fellow,” said Lau, and added that rumoured plans to send The Alfonso back to race in Australia were still up in the air. “I don’t know yet but anyway, I’ve got him for the return leg in Macau. Maybe we can give the Hong Kong horses a run for their money over there.”
Lau is the most successful interport trainer, with five horses first past the post – although he lost one of the wins through a positive drug test – and Moore joined him on four victories after taking the race back-to-back.
“Arpinati last year and now this horse, and Dashing Fellow has shown himself to be a very genuine sort of a horse too,” Moore said. “I freshened him up after his last run and he has appreciated that and he got the benefit of Zac being able to dictate. That was something we didn’t anticipate, but this guy has shown before he’s hard to run down.”
The 2014 winner Super Lifeline held down third place and, if The Alfonso’s effort was the silver lining for Macau from the race, the remainder of the Macau horses struggled, with Bobo So Cute next across the line in ninth.
Earlier Moore had won with feature race contenders Not Listenin’tome (Purton) and Helene Paragon (Joao Moreira), but sandwiched in between was green three-year-old Richcity Fortune, who scrambled home to win his maiden.
“I think we got a few things go our way when there was trouble at the top of the straight and I got a saloon passage through the inside,” said Purton. “He felt like he’d go through and put them to the sword but got a bit lost in front and just fell in. So he’s still immature and will keep improving with more racing.”