Joao Moreira will ride the John Size-trained pair Thewizardofoz and Western Express in next weekend’s Group Two features and says the master trainer’s team is “heading in the right direction” as the big races roll around.
“They are all improving from trial to trial, just as they should be at this time of year,” Moreira said.
Thewizardofoz will be one of four Size-trained sprinters in the Group Two Premier Bowl on Sunday week, along with Mr Stunning (Nash Rawiller), D B Pin (Karis Teetan) and Amazing Kids (Brett Prebble), with the quartet filling the first four placings in a dirt trial on Friday.
“I was really happy with the trial, he is healthy and good in his action,” Moreira said of Thewizardofoz, who will be first-up in the 1,200m contest.
“He had to cover a little bit of ground, but he was able to find the line well. A lot of the horses he will be facing will have had a run already, but my horse feels great. I didn’t dig him up out of the machine, and I didn’t let him overdo it, but he did what we wanted him to do.”
If, as expected, the 127-rated Helene Paragon lines up in the Group Two Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy (1,600m), Western Express will be allotted bottom weight of 113 pounds.
“At handicap conditions he is a chance,” Moreira said after Western Express was second in a 1,200m dirt trial to runaway stablemate Nothingilikemore.
Western Express was eighth when first-up in the Group Three Celebration Cup on October 1, a result that Moreira says looks worse on paper.
“The race wasn’t run to suit, they went to slow and he couldn’t make ground,” he said. “He also copped a bump in the straight just as he got going. There was also some give in the ground and I don’t think he liked it. Hopefully he gets firmer going next weekend.”
Helene Paragon is one of at least three runners John Moore has aimed at the key mile lead-up for Group One horses, along with Werther and Joyful Trinity.
Moore’s stable jockey Tommy Berry will ride Werther but took the reins on Helene Paragon at the trials, giving the two-time Group One winner a pass even after finishing more than 13 lengths away from Nothingilikemore in 10th.
“He has never trialled very well on the dirt, he hates the kickback,” Berry said. “But I was very happy with the way he pulled up.
“After his first trial he really had a good blow even though he hadn’t done much, this time we were looking for him to have improved his fitness from his first trial to his second and I think we got that from him. These dirt trials can look ordinary but they really bring horses on fitness-wise, especially for good horses like him.”
Umberto Rispoli gave a similar report for Joyful Trinity, a horse who was placed three times at Group One level last season before being sidelined with a stress fracture in March.
“I’m happy with the trial, John asked me to give him an easy trial, he is in very good shape,” Rispoli said after the five-year-old got to the line under his own steam in eighth, more than eight lengths behind Hearts Keeper.
“All of the big guns will be there next weekend, and he goes into the race off a break, but I’m really happy with where he is at.”