WITH Hong Kong’s International race-day looming large on the horizon, Sunday’s racing at Sha Tin is important for local trainers to produce their champions at near-peak condition as they prepare to tackle the foreign invaders.
Three race trials for the Jockey Club Cup, Sprint and Mile, will go some way to determining whether Hong Kong has the ammunition to keep next month’s four-race £8.5million prize money at home.
When it comes to big international races and Group contests, local racing enthusiasts and gamblers always look first to see what former seven-time champion trainer John Moore has lined up.
Moore has won everything on offer in HK. He has saddled the winner of every local Group One race, and been associated with the last five HK Horse of the Year accolades.
He was the first trainer to saddle over 1000 winners, and is the only trainer to win all four Hong Kong International races.
His winning prize money in Hong Kong is a staggering £180m.
However, Moore has started the 2017/18 season slowly, with only half-a-dozen winners to date, and whisper it quietly, one winner from his last 64 runners.
Never fear, when the big money is on offer, Moore springs to the forefront, and can never be left out of the equation.
WERTHER will take centre stage for the Moore stable when he lines up in the Jockey Club Cup (7.30am).
This four-time Group One winner, including the QEII Cup and HK Derby, offered hope to his legion of racing fans when staying on nicely over a trip short of his best over a mile last month.
A step up to 10 furlongs is all in his favour, and it will be disappointing for connections if he doesn’t win.
A word of warning, Tony Cruz saddles the fast improving and dangerous Gold Mount, who in the words of jockey Zac Purton produced a stunning performance when winning on his seasonal reappearance over 1800m last month.
British racing fans may remember this horse when he was called Primitivo.
The four-year-old, then trained by Alan King, won the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot back in 2016.
He looks a massive danger.
Moore saddles two in the Jockey Club Sprint, Not Listenin’Tome and Dashing Fellow, over 6f (8.05am).
However, both have awkward draws to contend with, and will be playing catch-up with the likes of LUCKY BUBBLES and Amazing Kids.
You can also forgive Thewizardofoz his below-par effort last month when he looked race rusty, but preference goes to Lucky Bubbles who has drawn the inside stall and can be considered unlucky when runner-up to rival Mr Stunning on his last start.
In the Jockey Club Mile (8.40am), John Moore saddles three contenders and all can be given first-rate chances.
Although stable jockey Tommy Berry is aboard last season’s HKIR Mile runner-up Helene Paragon, it might be worth taking a chance with his stable companion, the progressive BEAUTY GENERATION.
The five-year-old is seeking a hat-trick after two impressive triumphs – the handicapper has put him up 11lbs – and he is capable of improving again.
POINTERS - SUNDAY
Werther 7.30am Sha Tin
Lucky Bubbles 8.05am Sha Tin
Beauty Generation 8.40am Sha Tin