Rivet bounded out of the shadows at pre-dawn Sha Tin on Thursday, 18 January and into a position demanding closer consideration for Sunday’s (21 January) HK$10 million Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m), the first leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series.
John Moore’s charge arrived in Hong Kong as a Group 1 winner but that standout success came at the end of his admirable two-year-old season in the 2016 Racing Post Trophy (1600m). Despite a solid third in last year’s G1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains (1600m), his status among Europe’s three-year-old’s diminished with each of his two starts thereafter: a pair of down-the-field outings at Sha Tin before the turn of the year did little to inspire confidence either.
But horses often take time to come to grips with the Hong Kong way of things – Time Warp took eight starts to break his local maiden last term and ended the year with a G1 Hong Kong Cup victory. Rivet showed up on his third start since import, finishing fourth behind fellow Classic Mile contender Time To Celebrate in a Class 2 over 1600m on 7 January.
This morning’s hit-out on the Sha Tin turf saw Rivet outshine his Classic Mile-bound stablemates Good Standing and Grand Chancellor: Ruthven had his final gallop on Wednesday, a day earlier than his handler expected.
“He worked beautifully,” jockey Sam Clipperton purred to Moore as Rivet turned off the turf track and returned to the sand yard.
Moore agreed. The bay had quickened away enthusiastically from his companion horse, Let Us Win, to clock 1m 24.8s (29.6s, 31.1s, 24.1s) over 1200m.
“Rivet’s was the best work of the morning, he worked the place down,” Moore said. “Sam said that what he wanted to do was hit the line this morning and he did. If we can get the horse’s mind-set right, he’s going to run a big race.”
There is a suspicion that being a colt might be affecting Rivet’s approach to racing: Moore has opted to dispense with a piece of tack the former William Haggas-trained galloper has worn in each of his three starts at Sha Tin.