Plans are in motion for two-time Group One placegetter Thanks Forever to continue his career in Macau but any hopes connections and fans had of seeing the sprinter race in Hong Kong again have been dashed.
Thanks Forever looked poised to capitalise on the wafer-thin Hong Kong sprinting ranks this season and breakthrough at the top level after a handful of near-misses, but the five-year-old was forced out of Hong Kong after bleeding for the second time after a barrier trial in September last year.
Rumblings had developed about Thanks Forever potentially being given the chance to scratch his Group One itch at Sha Tin one day but Hong Kong Jockey Club chief steward Kim Kelly has put paid to that idea in its infancy.
“Once a horse is a two-time bleeder it is ineligible to race here – our rules provide that any horse that has bled two times can’t race so it is automatically ineligible to be entered,” he said.
There are high hopes for the galloper all the same, who raced only 17 times across three seasons under the care of John Moore but amassed over HK$13 million in prize money.
Thanks Forever was transferred to Tony Cruz’s stable after Moore’s compulsory retirement at the end of last season but never raced for Cruz and it was the seven-time champion trainer who set the next phase of the speedster’s career in motion.
With connections keen to continue the career of Thanks Forever, who finished his time in Hong Kong on a career-high rating of 123, Moore formulated a plan that – all going well – will unfold over the next six months or so.
“The owner wanted to continue racing and with the [more relaxed] bleeding rules in Macau I mentioned to the owner that I have a nephew over in Macau that would take him on,” John Moore said.
Enter second-season trainer Nicholas Moore, the son of legendary jockey-turned-trainer Gary Moore who is carving his own niche in Macau after years working with his father.
He’s itching to work with such a quality galloper and will be ensuring he gives Thanks Forever every possible chance of making it back to the racetrack.
“Thanks Forever is in another league and hopefully I can get him up and running. I’m very patient with my horses, there’s no rush,” he said, adding that Thanks Forever will be given the same rating in Macau as he had in Hong Kong, making him the second-highest rated horse in the jurisdiction behind Sacred Capital and Moore’s only galloper with a mark north of 100.
The son of Duporth is currently spelling in Auckland and is scheduled to arrive in Macau in April, with his new trainer targeting a return next season.
“There’s a nice race for him in Class One in the first week of the new season in September, so I’m probably looking at that and that will give me four months to prepare him,” Nicholas Moore said.
Should everything go to plan, his new trainer will then turn his attention to some of Macau’s biggest races – including the Macau Hong Kong Trophy (1,500m) when Covid-19 allows the interport series to resume.
“He produced a good run behind Beauty Generation in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup when he got beaten two lengths over 1,400m ridden back,” he said.
“With the speed they go in Macau – they go quick in Hong Kong but in Macau they probably go a bit quicker out of the gates.
“He raced on the speed in Hong Kong but I think he can come from the back with less pressure. You don’t want to put bleeders under too much pressure so hopefully he can get up to 1,500m.”
While Thanks Forever won’t get a second chance at chasing that elusive Group One on Hong Kong soil, its nothing but positive for Macau racing that he could soon be gracing Taipa racecourse. And who knows – his best might still be to come.