John Moore is taking a divide and conquer approach to the four-year-old series as he splits up his contenders but there is no doubt the stable’s number one seed is Rapper Dragon.
While Moore has indicated he will plot different paths to the BMW Hong Kong Derby with a few of his emerging talents, his top-rated four-year-old Rapper Dragon was one of five entries for the Hong Kong Classic Cup on February 19.
The Hong Kong Classic Mile winner continued his preparation with a comfortable barrier trial on Tuesday at Sha Tin that pleased Moore and had the trainer questioning where another contender could come from.
“He remains the one they all have to beat – you just have to look at the rating, 114,” Moore said after Joao Moreira allowed Rapper Dragon to cruise through the trial as he finished fifth behind Packing Llaregyb in a time of 59.35 seconds.
“You’re now looking for hidden talent; which horses coming through have something up their sleeves, that have just needed racing to acclimatise, or whatever?”
Finishing last in the trial was Rapper Dragon’s stablemate and Derby-bound stayer Eagle Way, with Sam Clipperton keeping the saddle warm for Tommy Berry.
Moore said not much was expected from Eagle Way in the trial and he believes the Queensland Derby winner is now coming into his distance range with the 1,800m of the Classic Cup next.
“I was very happy with the trial,” Moore said. “He shows early speed but when it comes to raceday you can drop him back in and he’ll relax. He’s going well.”
The Queensland Derby runner-up Rodrico went around in the next trial of the morning and even though the Jockey Club has given Glyn Schofield permission to ride the horse in the Classic Cup, Moore seemed unsure of a start there.
“There’s a question mark over Rodrico with respect to where he is, condition-wise,” Moore said after Rodrico was seventh in his heat under Clipperton. “There’s an option to go for the Class Two 2,000m race on the same day as the Classic Cup but the preference is for the Classic Cup.”
A somewhat surprising Classic Cup entry was My Darling, a horse that missed the Classic Mile and has never been tested beyond 1,400m.
My Darling trialled over 1,600m and was solid enough finishing second to Rickfield and the gelding’s tactical speed will make him an interesting proposition over 1,800m on February 19.
A couple of horses to watch from the 11-batch trial session were two sprinters returning from long lay-offs due to injury; Tony Millard’s three-year-old Strathclyde (Chad Schofield) and the highly rated Richard Gibson-trained project Jetwings (Douglas Whyte).