Staying form out of Europe can be a red flag to an import’s BMW Hong Kong Derby prospects but trainer John Moore believes Helene Charisma is developing the necessary dash to adapt to a new style of racing.
Helene Charisma carries a rating of 94, the highest of the horses purchased out of Europe for Hong Kong’s most sought-after race. The lofty mark is courtesy of victory in the Group One Grand Prix de Paris in July.
Although that win showed plenty of toughness to go with some obvious class, the question mark was always going to be whether the colt would adapt to a different style of training and racing at Sha Tin.
An eye-catching debut when flashing home for ninth in the Hong Kong Classic Mile was a great sign and on Sunday Helene Charisma gets another chance to build towards the Derby in the Group Three Centenary Vase.
“Of course, it can take time for these horses to acclimatise, but that run in the Classic Mile was exactly what we wanted to see from him. That told me he is acclimatising quickly but Sunday will be an even better pointer as he steps up to 1,800 metres,” Moore said via phone, while enjoying a short break aboard a cruise ship on the Andaman Sea near Thailand.
Moore will be back in time to saddle up three runners in a race he has won seven times, with Basic Trilogy and last-start Group Three winner Harbour Master making up his team.
With bottom weight of 113 pounds and star jockey Joao Moreira aboard, expectations will be high for Helene Charisma in a race that has only attracted nine runners.
And even though Moore’s focus is on the future for the four-year-old – specifically the Derby on March 19 – the trainer seemed confident of a forward showing on Sunday.
“We are in a slightly different situation with him than with some other horses because he has the points on the board with his rating, and is safely in the Derby, but we still need to get a bit of race mileage into his legs and get him accustomed to racing here,” said Moore.
“One of the challenges for horses like him, out of Europe, is getting them around those turns and putting some speed into them.
“Coming from the type of environment he was in at Chantilly and working in a straight line all the time, to here, is a big adjustment.
“But the way we train them, we are putting the speed into their legs and making it so they can lay-up a little closer in a race if they need to.”