Helene Paragon put together what trainer John Moore described as an “impressive” piece of work at Sha Tin on Thursday morning, three days out from the six-year-old’s attempt at a repeat win in Sunday’s (28 January) HK$10 million Group 1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m).
“When he came back in I just said to Tommy (Berry), ‘impressive’ and he replied, ‘impressive’, so that sums it up – we couldn’t be happier with the horse,” Moore said.
The Polan entire moved sweetly under Berry behind his lead horse, Harbour Master, quickening easily down the home straight to edge ahead at the finish. The work was a marked improvement on the bay’s lacklustre final gallop before last month’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile in which he went on to finish third behind stablemate Beauty Generation.
“That was much more enthusiastic work than before the international race – he just quickened to the lead horse and got there on the bridle,” Moore said after Helene Paragon had clocked 1m 22.3s (29.5s, 28.0s, 24.8s) for 1200m on the turf course.
The crack miler was fresh as he walked back to the unsaddling yard, giving the impression that he is coming to hand much as he did around this time last season when he placed second in the 2016 Hong Kong Mile and then followed up with wins in the Stewards’ Cup and G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) a month later.
Moore has tweaked Helene Paragon’s programme this time around, sliding in another race between his placing in the Hong Kong Mile and Sunday’s feature – a fine third in the G3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup Handicap (1400m) on New Year’s Day. On that occasion, the European import conceded 20lb to the winner, the re-opposing Fifty Fifty, and was beaten only a length and a quarter.