Boom sprinter Aethero will enjoy the perfect lead-in to Dubai after the Jockey Club confirmed it will put on a Class One 1,200m contest at Sha Tin on Sunday, March 8.
The three-year-old missed Sunday’s Group One Centenary Sprint Cup after failing to recover from a fever so trainer John Moore is understandably keen to find another feature for his talented youngster in his final Hong Kong season.
For the past two terms, there has been a 1,200m event for horses rated 95 and over but with just four competing last year, it looked destined for the scrap heap before Moore and Aethero stepped in.
The trainer approached officials about holding the race again to ensure he had a hit-out before the Group One Al Quoz Sprint and the Jockey Club has agreed to do it – they are planning on running it as the 11th event on the card.
Now all Moore has to do is get the approval from owners Andrea Tien and Arthur Cheng to make the trip a reality.
“Hopefully I can convince the owners to go to Dubai now,” he said. “I contacted [chief handicapper Nigel Gray] to see if there was any chance they could put on a race for 100-plus rated horses and they have – it’s the Aethero Sprint.”
Last year, Richard Gibson’s Wishful Thinker prevailed in the four-horse contest before running seventh in the Al Quoz.
Thanks Forever could join his stablemate in Meydan after a stunning second in the Group One Centenary Sprint Cup.
“I’ll also speak to the owners of Thanks Forever, he’ll go up 10 or 12 for that run and I’d like to run him in Dubai as well,” Moore said. “So I’d like to get clearance from those guys too.”
“It was an above average run after having to do a bit early when Full Of Beauty came up his outside. It wouldn’t harm to look at that straight six in Dubai. He’s always been good down the straight so why not take the trip if he gets the call up.”
Moore is also hoping two-time Hong Kong Horse of the Year Beauty Generation, who ran a gallant second in the Stewards’ Cup, will jump on a plane and race in the Dubai Turf.
Supreme Moore collects double
While he missed out in the two features, it was still a winning day for the Moore stable with My Ally and Champion Supreme saluting.
“We’ve picked up prize money in every race, the horses are running really well, they’re really hitting the line strongly,” the trainer said.
Champion Supreme kept his faint Derby ambitions alive by running over the top of his rivals in the Class Three Glorious Days Handicap (1,600m).
“Mucus. That was reason for all the past poor runs,” Moore said. “I did say to Neil [Callan] that hopefully he didn’t get impeded because once he gets into a rhythm in the straight, he starts to hit the line. He doesn’t want to get held up anywhere because he struggles to get back into his stride.
“He’ll run in an 1,800m in the second week of February because the owner has aspirations of running in the Derby.
“He’ll need a rating above 85, so he’ll have to win that race too to have any chance of competing at the highest level.”
My Ally took out the Class Three Good Ba Ba Handicap (1,400m) with a helping hand from apprentice Alfred Chan Ka-hei.
“He’s not the soundest of horses but the kid gave it a great ride, got the sectionals right,” Moore said. “It was the 10 pounds off that made the difference.”
Lui’s Undefeated start to 2020
Francis Lui Kin-wai continued his stunning winning streak on Sunday as the white-hot trainer captured another double at Sha Tin.
Lui has now had a winner at every meeting in 2020 – a run of six straight – after Undefeated and Valiant Dream saluted.
The latter got the chocolates in a blanket finish – with Dylan Mo Hin-tung lifting the galloper home to beat favourite Lockheed by a nose with Flying Bonus another nose back in third.
The former probably has more upside, entering the winner’s circle at just his second start.
“He looks like he’s improved from his first-up run,” Lui said. “Even last time he ran close and according to his sire [Shamus Award] he doesn’t look like a sprinter. I think he will be better over further.”
It was also the fourth winner of the term for Jack Wong Ho-nam.
“It’s nice for him to have winner,” Lui said. “It’s good for him to be rewarded and he can get more confidence from it.”
Lui now sits second in the title chase with 31 winners – the same as his tally for all of last season – and is just three behind early leader Ricky Yiu Poon-fai.
The Duke salutes again for O’Sullivan
Continuing the trend of doubles, trainer Paul O’Sullivan also got in on the act as Sonic Fighter and Duke Wai prevailed.
Duke Wai racked up his fourth straight victory in the Class Two Ambitious Dragon Handicap, despite finding trouble in the straight.
The four-year-old handled the step up to 1,200m with aplomb but he struggled to get a clear run early in the straight before Karis Teetan extricated him in time. The win completed a brace for the Mauritian, who tasted success earlier in the day with Tony Cruz’s Circuit Three.
“He’s not great out of the gates, eventually he’s going to have to smarten up because it will catch up with him,” O’Sullivan said.
“I think if he had a decent crack at them from the 300m, he would have won by further. It was a good result.
“I really think he’s a 1,400m horse. There’s a 1,400m race in a few weeks that might be his go, I’ll just see how he pulls up. He’s certainly done his job for the season, that’s for sure.
“He’s just a horse who has progressed and you get the odd one in Hong Kong that does that. He’s going to be competitive a fair way through Class Two you’d imagine.”
Earlier in the day, Sonic Fighter took out the Class Four Giant Treasure Handicap (1,600m), giving jockey Neil Callan the first leg of his double.