One-time problem colt Consort continues to avoid castration with his improved racing manners and another good trial has the much-discussed import primed for a competitive Class Two event on April 24.
It was widely assumed Consort would be gelded by now, with season-ending surgery seemingly imminent despite his big price tag and even after an encouraging fourth in the BMW Hong Kong Derby.
Before bouncing back in the Derby, Consort had been unplaced three times as his headstrong antics and lack of competitive spark had him looking like an expensive bust.
A 1,000m turf trial was scheduled especially for horses contesting the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup, although the only entrants who took the opportunity were John Moore-trained pair Werther (Zac Purton) and Helene Happy Star (Gerald Mosse).
The story, though, was Moore’s charge Consort (Chad Schofield). Now with Richard Gibson, he continued his turnaround, settling better than he has done previously behind the speed and then allowed to stride away for a confidence-building trial win.
Consort will be entered in a 1,600m Class Two on QE II day, where he will come up against Moore’s Derby fifth Helene Paragon (Joao Moreira), who was also dropped in behind in the trial and finished off very nicely under his own steam.
The pair will meet at level weights but are sure to be giving some handy horses weight off their mark of 95, but both will appreciate a drop back to what looks a more natural 1,600m after being stretched to the 2,000m of the Derby.
Helene Happy Star was felt for by Mosse, testing him late after an abysmal tailed-off performance as favourite in the Happy Valley Vase three weeks ago.
Werther, wearing pacifiers to protect his eyes from kickback on the choppy course proper, was given an easy time but hit the line with enough vigour to suggest the Derby winner is in good order for the QE II.
Meanwhile, Matthew Chadwick has been locked in as Moreira’s replacement aboard Tony Cruz-trained Peniaphobia for the Chairman’s Sprint Prize on May 1.
Moreira has opted to ride John Size’s Thewizardofoz in the HK$10 million feature, and Cruz was philosophical about the jockey change on this season’s Hong Kong Sprint winner.
“Well, it wasn’t a huge surprise and we just have to roll with it,” Cruz said. “John Size has a couple of very nice young horses in the race so I thought there would be a chance he would ride one of them. But Matthew rode the horse in his debut, he won on him in his first season, so at least he knows the horse.”
James McDonald has also been asked by Moore to ride Not Listenin’tome in the same race, with the horse coming off a lacklustre eighth in the Al Quoz Sprint. McDonald replaces Ryan Moore, who will be required in England that weekend to ride Aidan O’Brien-trained Air Force Blue in the 2,000 Guineas and Minding in the 1,000 Guineas.