Trainer Tony Cruz may have in Blazing Speed the horse to end a 21-year wait for a Triple Crown winner but that can wait while he has an appointment with Hong Kong's richest race on December 14.
Blazing Speed (Neil Callan) won Group Ones at 1,600m and 2,400m last season and added the Group Two Jockey Club Cup yesterday to throw down his cards as a leading player in the HK$25 million Longines Hong Kong Cup.
"You know last season, I was a bit upset he didn't win the Triple Crown," said Cruz. "He won two of the legs but in the Gold Cup, he came around the outside and was bumped and then he got keen and didn't relax and didn't perform," said Cruz.
Callan has forged a successful partnership with the five-year-old, also landing the Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup in May over 2,400m.
"I think he's just versatile - any distance, as long as he relaxes," Callan said. "I don't know if that's Tony's training or my hands but we just click. Today I was a length further back than probably Tony wanted me to be, but the main thing was that Blazing Speed got comfortable and into his rhythm."
The options of going shorter or longer with Blazing Speed on international day are open to Cruz but he believes the 2,000m of the Hong Kong Cup looks the right trip for Blazing Speed, who was beaten under two lengths in the race without luck behind Akeed Mofeed a year ago.
Cruz said he was pleased with rising nine-year-old and two time Hong Kong Cup winner, California Memory in fourth, although he admitted time did seem to be catching the grey, while Willie Cazals ran on well for seventh and will head for the 2,400m of the Vase.
Military Attack lost no caste in being beaten a head and trainer Caspar Fownes said the closeness of the finish betrayed the depth of talent amongst the elite horses.
"There's not a lot between them - they're a good bunch of horses and anyone can win on the right day. The way the race was run today, Military Attack had to be up where he was and a bit exposed. I can't be disappointed to lose by such a short margin but I'm sure he's better sitting behind and chasing rather than being out there as the target," Fownes said.
The public disappointment lay with Horse Of the Year, Designs On Rome (Joao Moreira) who found the line well for fifth and wasn't far away but never looked a real threat.
"That looked a case of Joao being unfamiliar with him and getting to know the horse better," said trainer John Moore. "You have to have this horse stoked up all the time through the race. He still loomed up and then flattened out the last 100m but he'll peak in three weeks."