Horse Racing
Aethero wins big as Moore keeps up pressure on Size

By David Morgan
01/07/2019 19:09

Aethero does it easily under Zac Purton.
Aethero does it easily under Zac Purton.

John Moore has December’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint on Aethero’s agenda after Hong Kong’s potential next big thing toyed with his rivals in the Class 3 Riding High Together Handicap (1200m) at Sha Tin this afternoon, Monday, 1 July.

The handler’s much-hyped juvenile faced his most difficult task yet as he stepped out of two easy Griffin race wins and into open handicap company for the first time. But the outcome was the same: the Sebring gelding sped to the lead, made the running, and breezed down the home straight for an eased-down length and three-quarter score.

“He looks decent, doesn’t he? He did the job today in the fashion that I thought he would,” Moore said of the 1.6 favourite, who stopped the clock in a class record 1m 08.32s.

“Three runs next season to get him into the 100-range before we get to the Hong Kong Sprint, that would be the ultimate target. I’m getting ahead of myself a bit but I believe he’s definitely the sort of horse that could be the likely type to make it.”

Moore noted that his charge is “not the finished product” but was firm in his conviction that he has what it takes to progress physically and mentally in time for the December showpiece.

“With the boys who will be on him of a morning and the ‘TLC’ and so forth, by the time he gets to December he’ll be focused, he’ll be the finished product – he’s just got to convert the goal,” he said.

“He has the makings of one of Hong Kong’s top sprinters, the way he went there. I know he didn’t beat very much but he’s only a two-year-old, he’s in open company so to do it as comfortably as that is really pleasing.”

Aethero takes his record to three from three.

It is uncommon to see two-year-olds defeating their elders in Class 3 at such an early juncture. G1 Al Quoz Sprint hero Amber Sky, in recent times, is the most notable and that straight track bullet also achieved the distinction at his third start, ending his debut season rated 82.

“Aethero will go up another 10 or 12 points so he’ll be rated 87 – it’s exciting,” Moore added.

Purton was pleased with Aethero’s performance and shared the trainer’s view that there is certainly more to look forward to from the chestnut, who is a half-brother to the Australian G2 winner Classique Legend.

“He wasn’t the quickest to hit the ground but once he balances up he’s got a lot of speed early,” the rider said. “His race brain is not quite there yet, he still does a bit wrong, when you let him down his legs sort of go everywhere so that’s a good sign that he can find improvement.

“He’s obviously an exciting horse and he’s done what I thought he would.”

Moore and Purton also teamed successfully with Buddies in the Class 3 Guangdong-Hong Kong Cup Handicap (1650m, dirt) and Classic Beauty in the Class 3 Sportsmanship Handicap (2000m). That treble kept alive Moore’s dream of an eighth champion trainer title as it moved him on to 71 wins for the season, three behind premiership leader John Size.

Purton ended the day with a four-timer after the Caspar Fownes-trained newcomer Winning Delight lifted late to win the finale, the Class 3 Better Future Handicap (1400m). The 50/1 shot took his rider’s running total for the season to 156 and put him 14 behind Joao Moreira’s single season record of 170 wins with four meetings to go.

Energy bursts bubbles

Green Energy wins the day’s feature.
Green Energy wins the day’s feature.

Moore was out of luck with another of his rising stars when the Danny Shum-trained Green Energy (118lb) returned from an eight-month injury absence to win the day’s feature, the Class 2 Hong Kong Reunification Cup Handicap (1200m).

Moore’s Thanks Forever (129lb) and the Frankie Lor-trained Big Party (124lb) were expected to dominate and were sent off at odds of 3.3 and 1.7 respectively. The hype horses failed to live up to expectations though as the 41/1 outsider stalked the lead, shifted out at the top of the straight and forged on to a neck win under Dylan Mo.

“Green Energy had a left-fore tendon issue, which he had since he transferred from Peter Ho last season,” Shum revealed. “He had two really hard races early in the season and he got an injury, which was really bad. We took him to Conghua and there was a moment when I said to the owner, I ‘want to retire him’ – I didn’t want him to struggle but they were very generous and said ‘take your time, we have a lot of time, just do your job’.

“It wasn’t a strong field for a Class 2 1200-metre race and he’s got ability. He had a good draw (1) and he can kick, so I told the owners he had a good chance, even when at that time he was 49/1 – he shouldn’t have been that price.

“The horse is not 100 per cent fit – I’ll run him again in the Class 2 on the last day,” he added.

Green Energy scores under Dylan Mo.

The six-year-old gave Mo his biggest career success and his 24th this term.

“He took a long break and was coming back fresh so I rode him relaxed and calm and he came home strong. I just try my best and keep working hard – my boss has given me a lot of chances,” Mo said.

Thanks Forever was under pressure a long way from home and plugged on in sixth, while Lor’s grey faded to seventh in the 14-strong field.

“Thanks Forever, just forget the run,” Moore said. “He didn’t seem confident in running: he was wandering and didn’t hit the line. He pulled up sound and he’ll run 1400 metres on the last day of the season.”

Beauty Loyal gives Aldo Domeyer a brace.
Beauty Loyal gives Aldo Domeyer a brace.

Aldo Domeyer bagged an early double. The South African was craning his neck looking for non-existent dangers as the Francis Lui-trained Victoriam eased to a two and a quarter-length success in the opener, the Class 4 Racing Goes On Handicap (1200m).

Domeyer followed up in the Class 4 Serving The Community Handicap (1650m, dirt) and it was another easy win: the Tony Cruz-trained Beauty Loyal defied top-weight to score by two and a half lengths.

Paul O’Sullivan has his stable in fine late-season form. The handler saddled the first two home in the Class 5 World-Class Leadership Handicap (1650m, dirt) as the Karis Teetan-ridden Hidden Spirit charged home from deep to finish three lengths ahead of stablemate Mi Blanco.

Hong Kong pop star and actor Aaron Kwok was denied a win when his three-year-old Dancing Fighter failed to make it two from two in the Class 4 Uncompromising Integrity Handicap (1000m). Zac Purton’s mount had no answer to the determined run of the Benno Yung-trained Super Junior, who battled to a three quarter-length victory under Derek Leung.

Deal Maker had his first start for Jimmy Ting in the Class 4 Continuous Development Handicap (1650m, dirt) and hit the mark under Chad Schofield with a two and three quarter-length win.