A phone call from an old friend in Australia inspired a winning change of tact for veteran trainer John Moore with his aptly named gelding Just Not Listening.
Moore was quick to heap praise on Queensland trainer Bryan Guy who suggested to run the four-year-old on the Sha Tin all-weather surface after showing promising signs over similar ground in Australia before being bought by Hong Kong interests.
Guy prepared the horse at his Gold Coast base after purchasing him as a two-year-old for A$450,000 (HK$2.5 million) from the Magic Millions sale in 2016.
“Bryan had him and kept ringing me saying ‘run him on the dirt you fool’,” Moore said after Just Not Listening’s come from behind win in the Class Four Boston Handicap (1,200m).
“Last season he rung, he kept saying ‘what are you running him on the turf for? I told you he was a good dirt horse’.”
Moore attempted to write a note thanking Guy for the tip to be seen by the television cameras, but did not manage in time.
Good to see Just Not Listening break his maiden @HKJC_Racing today. He was a nice horse when I prepared him for John and @Georgejmoore8 and always showed a liking for the dirt, onwards and upwards from here!— Bryan Guy (@BryanGuyRacing) September 22, 2018
Guy took to social media following the victory, delighted to see his former prodigy break his maiden status.
“Good to see Just Not Listening break his maiden today. He was a nice horse when I prepared him for John,” he tweeted.
“ … always showed a liking for the dirt, onwards and upwards from here.”
Moore said it had been a “challenge” to get Just Not Listening to the races because of consistently poor racing manners.
At the end of last season, Moore set out a challenge for his premier track work rider Romain Clavreul who used to work for global giants Godolphin to get him in racing shape after managing a best finish of just third in his seven starts prior.
Just Not Listening (Star Witness-High Aspirations) wins impressively @HKJC_Racing Sha Tin for John Moore. The winner was a $450,000 Gold Coast 2YOs in Training Sale buy for original trainer @BryanGuyRacing for connections from @WashpoolLodge. #ClassOf2016— Magic Millions (@mmsnippets) September 22, 2018
“My French riding boy Romain spent a lot of time to get him in the right frame of mind and he said just take everything off and let him do his thing, so his gate manners have improved out of sight,” he said.
“We all worked together to get his barrier manners right.
“His sister is mad, she’s a metropolitan winner but she’s mad. It’s all paid off, good work by Romain … and Dougie [jockey Douglas Whyte], great ride – there’s improvement to come.”
Moore however said he did not want to limit the promising four-year-old to only dirt tracks, saying he hoped he could come on further after the win.
“If you looked at him in the paddock today he still looked in need of a run, I told the owner, he looked like a place or quinella chance, but it just shows you that a horse that probably has a class up its sleeve, they don’t have to be 100 per cent,” he said.
“He still had something in the tank.”