Ryan Moore went within inches of bagging a record third Group One Hong Kong Cup 12 months ago and the star Englishman returns laden with increased firepower for this year’s 2,000m test.
Moore had to settle for second aboard Magic Wand in 2019 but he is confident another Aidan O’Brien-trained mare in Magical can help him draw level with the legendary Frankie Dettori as the only jockeys to win the race three times.
“Magic Wand was a super mare but Magical you would think would be a slight step-up on her, she brings stronger form than Magic Wand would have done,” Moore said.
The Japanese are on a roll! Win Bright shines in the @LONGINES Hong Kong Cup for Masami Matsuoka and Yoshihiro Hatakeyama! #HKIR #ウインブライト #HKracing #競馬 #香港カップ #香港国際競走 pic.twitter.com/dGpORCFZV7— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) December 8, 2019
Moore boasts a sparkling Cup record with two wins and three placings from nine attempts, taking out the race in 2010 aboard Ed Dunlop’s Snow Fairy and in 2016 with Noriyuki Hori-trained superstar Maurice.
He was pipped by Win Bright last year and faces the Japanese raider again at Sha Tin on Sunday, with the six-year-old one of three gallopers from the Land of the Rising Sun in the field – along with Danon Premium and Normcore.
The Tony Cruz-trained Furore heads the local hopes after taking out the Group Two Jockey Club Cup (2,000m) last month, while French raider Skalleti has strong form after finishing ahead of Magical in the Group One Champion Stakes at Ascot in October.
A stunning performance from Magical who defeats Ghaiyyath and flies home to land the Irish Champion Stakes under Seamie Heffernan for Aidan O’Brien at @LeopardstownRC #LICW2020@ballydoyle pic.twitter.com/5AEGxOskiS— Irish Champions Wknd (@IrishChampsWknd) September 12, 2020
“She’s been great for a long time and it’s fantastic that she’s here. The reality is they probably have her to beat,” Moore said of Magical, who will become O’Brien’s most prolific Group One winner if she can add an eighth top-level victory to her tally on the weekend.
“You always respect the horses that are in there. There are three smart Japanese horses who have all won Group Ones and Furore is in good shape. It’s a small field but there’s not a bad one in there I don’t think.”
Moore partners another O’Brien runner in the Hong Kong Vase (2,400m), with Mogul looking to bring down Hong Kong Horse of the Year Exultant after saluting at Group One level in France in September.
“He’s a beautiful horse, we’ve always held him in very high regard,” Moore said. “He took a while to come to hand this year but you can see him out on the track – he’s a very strong colt.
“He was very impressive when he won the Grand Prix de Paris and his Breeders’ Cup run, he wasn’t beaten far in what was a messy sort of a race.
“Obviously there’s only the seven in there, Exultant always runs his race but he would look to have a solid chance.”
Aidan O’Brien knows only ‘high-class horses’ will suffice as he chases more HKIR success
Moore’s final ride in Sunday’s features comes aboard Danon Smash in the Sprint, with the Japanese speedster looking to improve on his eighth in the contest in 2019.
“He seems well and he’s got plenty of form in the book,” Moore said of the dual Group One Sprinters Stakes placegetter.
“It’s always hard to beat the Hong Kong horses in the Sprint and obviously this year there’s Classique Legend, who looked exceptional in Australia, so as always it’s a tough race. We’d probably have to step-up a little bit but hopefully we get a good run and perform well.”