John Moore will revert to Plan A and aim Rapper Dragon at the 2017 Hong Kong Derby after the international day hopeful succumbed to a niggling foot problem after a searching gallop on Saturday.
Rapper Dragon was among the entries for Sunday’s Group Two Jockey Club Cup, but the gelding will instead be rested and is likely to return in late December or early next year.
“It’s nothing serious, everything is fine and he is still on target for next year’s four-year-old series and the Derby,” Moore said.
After already enduring a patchy preparation as Moore pushed for a start in Hong Kong’s richest race, the HK$25 million Hong Kong Cup on December 11, Sunday’s race was seen as an essential lead-up for Rapper Dragon.
The Australian import was due to resume in the Group Two Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy on October 23 but was found to be lame in a right hind leg.
After a subsequent trial last week and then fast gallop on Saturday, Rapper Dragon was found to be lame again, Moore scrapping the international day plans and intending to give the horse a short let-up.
“It’s just some bruising of the foot, the same foot as before,” Moore said. “We thought it had subsided enough and was OK, but after the trial and gallop it wasn’t quite right. It’s a nuisance that we couldn’t get him to international day but now we just go back to our original plan, and that is next year’s Derby.”
Formerly trained by Gai Waterhouse, Rapper Dragon has already won four from seven for Moore, including victory in the Group Three Lion Rock Trophy late last term that lifted the horse’s rating to 114.
Moore said he could even return before the first race of the rich four-year-old series, the HK$10 million Hong Kong Classic Mile on January 22.
“We did an X-ray to make sure it’s not anything really serious, he has actually improved overall, but we will give him a week or two off work. He is quite fit and we aren’t going to lose too much muscle with him in that time, but we will just get him sound. That’s the priority.”
Another of Moore’s 2017 Derby hopefuls has spent the last few days resting as well, with high-priced import Beauty Generation given a break after being found to have a temperature.
Formerly known as Montaigne and Group One-placed in Australia, Beauty Generation had trialled impressively last week.
“He was due to run on the 27th of this month but we will push that back, it’s more precautionary than anything else,” Moore said.