With half the field for Sunday’s Hong Kong Classic Mile and top-rated Rapper Dragon firing on all cylinders again, it seems trainer John Moore’s only concerns are the tricky pre-race logistics of saddling-up seven runners.
“The whole team will need to be down there to saddle them all up and get them ready, we’ll bring all of the riding boys over to help,” he said.
“Talk about quality problems, it’s a nice problem to have and really, I’m just excited to see the race. It’s great to have so many runners and at least four are really live chances.”
Moore has declared this his strongest ever hand heading into a four-year-old series – even ahead of 2014 when stablemates Designs On Rome and Able Friend ran the quinella in all three legs, culminating in a classic Hong Kong Derby clash.
“Of course that was a great series, but overall, numbers wise and for depth, this is pretty amazing, and there is still plenty of upside with all of them as we head to the Derby in March,” Moore said.
“Team Moore also includes impressive last start winners Beauty Generation and Eagle Way, but he is still sticking with 114-rated, Group Three winner Rapper Dragon as the stable elect.
“He is still the one to beat and deserves to be favourite in my books, he has the runs on the board,” Moore said, with the Australian import having already achieved the rating through a brilliant four-win campaign last season.
Rapper Dragon was to be set for the Group One Hong Kong Cup before a minor leg injury sustained in the stables set the gelding back, delaying his return to a first-up fifth on international day over 1,400m.
“It just went wrong when he kicked a wall and bruised a leg and hip, it was fate, what could I do? But since then everything has gone to plan, he is a big, gross horse but he is so clean-winded, so he isn’t that difficult to get fit,” Moore said.
“His run on international day was good, he has galloped the place down, his trial was fantastic and I still think he is the one to beat out of all of them.”
An added vote of confidence for Rapper Dragon, and perhaps an assurance he will start a strong favourite, is leading jockey Joao Moreira sticking solid with a horse he has won four from five on.
Moreira believes his mount might have a slight fitness edge on rivals, with many runners still acclimatising to local conditions and building fitness ahead of their ultimate goal in March.
“Rapper Dragon is going extremely well in his trackwork and, honestly, I think he’s one of the fittest horses at this stage,” Moreira said.