Hong Kong trainer John Moore says he wants to aim for Dubai Duty Free
Hong Kong trainer John Moore has set his sights on the lucrative prize money on offer in Dubai after his Designs On Rome and Able Friend impressed at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Designs On Rome needed all the assistance of superstar rider Joao Moreira to edge out Military Attack by a short head in a thumping finish to the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup.
Just 40 minutes earlier, Moreira did not need to resort to his whip as Able Friend strode clear of Gold-Fun to win the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile by four-and-a-quarter lengths – a record margin of victory at the Hong Kong track.
Moore has been a regular in Dubai on World Cup night in the past few seasons, and he hopes he can persuade owners of both victors that the riches of Meydan are worth travelling west.
“It will be the Stewards’ Cup next for Able Friend and I’ll do my utmost to convince the owner to go for the Dubai Duty Free, but that might be a long lunch,” Moore said.
Dubai has long been in the plans for Designs On Rome, and Moore hopes he can aim a twin-pronged attack at Meydan, where he won the Dubai Golden Shaheen with Sterling City in March. “We had set him for this,” Moore said after the Hong Kong Cup. “I said all week I was confident he would peak for this race. Joao had him stoked up at the right time and he was very tough. It was an excellent win, and I’d be keen to campaign him overseas.”
Cirrus Des Aigles, who was fourth behind third-placed Criterion in the Cup, is also set to return to Meydan for a third tilt at the Dubai Sheema Classic.
It was a stellar night for Moreira, who missed Hong Kong’s international card 12 months ago due to suspension and leads the jockey standings in the special administrative region.
Of his two winning mounts, it was clear which one held a special place in the Brazilian’s heart.
“The way Able Friend has won, coming from a long way back, passing by them and not even being hit by the whip – wow,” he said. “He’s such an amazing horse. He has a great turn of foot, and the way he won today gives me the feeling that he’s the best horse I’ve ever sat on.”
Hong Kong also dominated the Sprint, in which Aerovelocity and Peniaphobia shared the spoils with Japanese raider Straight Girl and Irish runner Gordon Lord Byron in behind. Sterling City was 10th out of 14 runners.
It was the third time in four years that Hong Kong horses won three of the four Hong Kong international races.
The international contingent had their spirits raised early on when Maxime Guyon guided Flintshire to victory in the Hong Kong Vase to become the 12th foreign horse to win the 2,400-metre event this century.
The crowd at Sha Tin was the largest for 17 years, at 78,000.
Jockey Jamie Spencer has performed a dramatic about-face and will not retire from the saddle at the end of the year. The Irishman, 34, was set to work for Qatar Racing in a management role, making his announcement on August 21. The turnabout frees him up to partner Toast Of New York, the UAE Derby winner who is slated to run in the Dubai World Cup in March.
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Published: December 14, 2014 04:00 AM