The HK$16 million Champions Mile next month at Sha Tin is down to just seven runners after the John Moore-trained Invincible Dragon’s season came to an abrupt end on Friday.
Moore had intended Invincible Dragon to have a lead-up start to the Group One in Sunday’s Hong Kong Jockey Club Community Trophy over 1,400m but the gelding was withdrawn mid-afternoon after showing lameness in his left front leg and swelling in the fetlock.
“That’s it, he’s finished for the season,” said Moore. “The X-rays haven’t shown us anything significant there but he’ll have an MRI on Monday and we’ll get a better idea. But he is sore to flex in that joint and he’s not a horse we want to take any risks with so he’ll have a break for the summer.”
Invincible Dragon has been one of Moore’s finds for the season, winning three of six starts and placing the other three, including a win in the Hong Kong Macau Trophy at Class One level, and the Champions Mile would have been the five-year-old’s first foray into Group racing.
“He’s only had the six runs but they’ve all been since January, so he has had a fairly intense programme and has come quite a long way quickly,” Moore said. “He’s talented so I’d rather put Invincible Dragon away and look towards Group races with him next season – who knows, maybe he’ll improve enough to be a Hong Kong Mile horse.”
The withdrawal will cut an already small Champions Mile field to only seven runners, with the race still two weeks away. Since the race was first opened to international competition in 2005, there has been only one smaller field – when the champion Able Friend beat five locally trained rivals in the race two years ago.
But at least Invincible Dragon’s owner, Albert Hung Chao-hong, won’t be too concerned at the gelding missing the race as he has a fairly able replacement in four-year-old star Rapper Dragon, who will line up as one of the favourites.