People’s Knight is assured of a run in the Group One Hong Kong Classic Mile on January 22 and just as well after the John Moore-trained hope was dealt a blow at the barrier draw for Wednesday’s Choi Wan Handicap at Happy Valley.
The James Tien Pei-chun owned runner is one of eight entries Moore holds for the HK$10 million first leg of the four-year-old series and the trainer said it was a “win and you are in” scenario for the 2015 Griffin trophy winner.
“If he wins he will run in the Classic Mile,” Moore said on Sunday. “That is whether he is in the field or not.”
Moore may have to rethink that statement after People’s Knight drew barrier 10 in a very competitive Class Two, which contains a host of course specialists hovering dangerously around their ratings level.
Still, People’s Knight (Sam Clipperton) has won two straight – snapping out of a slump with a 1,400m Sha Tin win before a step up to 1,650m on the dirt and a quick back-up brought about another success. Even though People’s Knight lost his way for a while after that Griffin Trophy win, and then lost even more form after being gelded, a record of five wins from 16 starts doesn’t read too badly, and there might even be some upside off a mark of 86.
That rating is high enough for People’s Knight to be ranked among the field of 14 for the Classic Mile, along with stablemates Rapper Dragon (114), Beauty Generation (100), Eagle Way (98), Helene Charisma (94), Rodrico (89) and Let Us Win (87).
Moore also has 76-rated Irish import Booming Delight entered for the Classic Mile and out to boost his rating on Sunday at Sha Tin over 1,800m in Class Three.
Moore is still tossing up whether or not to run all of his eligible horses in the Classic Mile, with French stayer Helene Charisma possibly heading to a 1,800m Class Two on the same day.
People’s Knight isn’t the only Classic Mile entrant engaged in the Class Two on Wednesday, with John Size rushing Group Two German 2,000 Guineas winner Encounter (Silvestre de Sousa) to the races in an effort to gain some all-important match fitness.
Size may have just thrown the big-race entry in as a contingency, but he will still be looking for a forward effort from the youngster, who was formerly known as Knife Edge, after a 1,600m trial win last Tuesday.
Another runner looking for three straight, the Caspar Fownes-trained So Caffe (Joao Moreira) is likely to start favourite as he looks to continue his charge up the grades.
Meanwhile, a confidence-boosting double should have Kei Chiong Ka-kei motivated to maintain her perfect record aboard Paul O’Sullivan-trained sprinter Moment Of Power in the Fu Shan Handicap (Class Three, 1,000m).
Chiong won on the course and distance specialist at the end of last season and first-up this term, but everything went wrong for champion Australian jockey Hugh Bowman when he rode the sprinter on International Jockeys’ Championship night in December.
After failing to find the fence on the front-runner from gate four, Moment Of Power was left facing the breeze and three wide for much of the trip, working hard in the run.
Moment Of Power has trialled well for Chiong since and although the four-year-old faces a relatively tough Class Three field, the apprentice’s claim, a good draw and some key rivals drawing out should ensure a nice run on the “B” course.