John Moore believes Ricky Yiu Poon-fai has “problems on his hands” after confirming Aethero and Thanks Forever will tackle Voyage Warrior in a white-hot Class Two over 1,000m at Sha Tin next Saturday.
Moore had been considering running Aethero in the Group Two Premier Bowl (1,200m) later this month but has opted to step back to 1,000m after the gelding’s third place over 1,200m on National Day.
“Ricky was trying to keep away from us, now he’s going to have problems on his hands,” said Moore, who is determined to get Aethero the rating he needs to qualify for December’s Hong Kong Sprint.
“Aethero needed that run on Tuesday so he is definitely going to benefit from it. He pulled up well, no issues. He’s a work in progress.”
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Joao Moreira rides the boom three-year-old for the first time after originally looking like he would partner Thanks Forever.
“I changed the plan and I just rang Joao straight away because he had rang me and said ‘I don’t like the way Thanks Forever is going’,” Moore said.
Despite that, exciting speedster Thanks Forever won a trial in impressive fashion at Sha Tin on Friday morning under Chad Schofield, who has picked up the ride for the Class Two dash.
After two Class Three wins down the straight last season, Thanks Forever struggled up in grade over further and was ordinary in a barrier trial last month, but Moore is confident the lightly raced four-year-old is back on track.
“There were a few soundness issues that needed correcting, and we did it,” Moore said. “Joao wasn’t that happy with him the other day and I said ‘mate I know what’s wrong, we can right the ship’.
“The way he trialled [on Friday], the feedback from Chad was really positive. He said he felt really good.”
Voyage Warrior has just come out and won a 1050m barrier trial at Sha Tin this morning by about 8L - mouthwatering clash between him & Aethero next Saturday over 1000m @HKJC_Racing #HKRacing pic.twitter.com/ilNNsETQs2— (@tommentatornz) October 4, 2019
Whether the pair can match Voyage Warrior is another story altogether, with the four-year-old winning his Friday morning trial in scintillating fashion.
He left the likes of Refined Treasure and Silver Fig in his wake to win by about eight lengths over a strung-out field and Yiu expects an even sharper horse on race day.
“I knew he was going to trial extremely well, win by three, four or five lengths. He’s very keen and wanted the run,” he said.
“I hope this trial will bring him on, he’ll run well for sure. All of sudden Mr Moore will enter two or three or four, so it will be a good race to watch.”
Zac Purton will ride Voyage Warrior, while Aldo Domeyer – who had been slated to ride Aethero had he run in the Group Two – picks up the ride on Tony Millard’s Refined Treasure.
The five-year-old is at his best over 1,000m but the trainer knows his charge will have his work cut out against such a crack field next Saturday.
“It’s going to be a very hot race, he gets a little bit lost around the turn but on his day he’s got a lot of toe,” Millard said.
Millard’s dirt specialist Elusive State also put in a solid trial effort on Friday morning and will head to a Class Two 1,650m race on the all-weather track on October 30 as the South African dreams of targeting riches in Dubai and Saudi Arabia in the new year.
“He runs at the end of the month. I’m very happy with him, I think he’s improved from last season but he needs to if he is going to be up in that league,” Millard said.