The immediate retirement of John Moore’s Group One contender Victory Magic has resulted in a jockey reshuffle for the big race stable and Zac Purton gaining the ride on 2017 Hong Kong Derby early elect Rapper Dragon.
Victory Magic’s name was missing from entries for Sunday’s Group Two Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy after the five-year-old was diagnosed with a torn left front tendon last weekend.
“He has been retired and it’s a real pity, he was a talented horse that I felt was still on the way up, his best racing was ahead of him,” Moore said of an Australian import who finished narrow seconds in last season’s Group One BMW Hong Kong Derby and Group One Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup.
Purton had committed to ride Victory Magic in Sunday’s Group Two lead-up over the Tony Cruz-trained Beauty Only, with that ride going to Douglas Whyte, but after his horse went amiss Moore said he felt “obliged” to give the jockey a ride on one of his five remaining runners.
“Zac had given up a lot to ride Victory Magic so I felt it was right to give him the chance on Rapper Dragon,” Moore said, confirming that Joao Moreira would now ride last start Group Three winner Joyful Trinity on Sunday.
The 114-rated Rapper Dragon is being aimed at Hong Kong’s richest race, the $25 million Group One Hong Kong Cup on international day, and is also eligible for next year’s Derby, yet Moore stopped short of saying the ride is Purton’s to keep.
“It’s a one-off for now, and we also have a nice Derby horse called Beauty Generation, formerly Montaigne, that is owned by the Kwok family and Zac has an arrangement to ride their horses, so let’s see,” he said.
Moore also has Designs On Rome resuming on Sunday, starting alongside Helene Paragon and Helene Happy Star.
There were few surprises among the entries for the two Group Twos, although Richard Gibson’s Group One-winning miler Giant Treasure being entered for the Premier Bowl and contesting 1,200m for the first time raised some eyebrows.
Neil Callan will ride Giant Treasure, leaving in-form Australian Sam Clipperton to take the ride on Not Listenin’tome for Moore.