Horse Racing
Moore’s Stronger faces tough assignment at the Valley

By Declan Schuster
17/12/2019 16:15

Stronger has pleased John Moore since arriving in Hong Kong.
Stronger has pleased John Moore since arriving in Hong Kong.

John Moore heads into Wednesday’s (18 December) nine-race card at Happy Valley hoping Stronger (116lb) can out-muscle his rivals in the night’s tough finale, the Class 2 Mercury Handicap (1200m).

The classy Australian import produced a slashing second on his Hong Kong debut behind the speedy Duke Wai over 1000m at Sha Tin last time.

“I was very impressed with him in his Hong Kong debut, he lived up to expectations in the sense that he ran very well at the Gold Coast pre-import when he won the Group 3 Ken Russell Memorial Classic (1200m), so we knew that he was talented before he arrived here,” Moore said.

The Not A Single Doubt colt won three races pre-import, and, prior to his G3 win, was a closing fourth behind Bivouac, who boosted that form subsequently with a win the G1 Golden Rose and second-place in the G1 Coolmore Stud Stakes last month at Flemington.

Moore has been pleased with the colt’s attitude since arriving in August and was satisfied with his pre-race gallop on Monday (16 December).

“He ran 47 seconds down the back straight yesterday morning and he gave Matthew (Chadwick) a very good feel,” the seven-time champion trainer said.

“He’s a very easy horse to train, he’s still an entire but he’s very laidback and he just does what he needs to do, so from that point of view everything has gone to plan so far with him.

Stronger grabbed second behind Duke Wai in his Hong Kong debut.

“He’s up to Class 2 now off a rating of 81, he has the lightweight, a good gate on the C+3 course where he should get the gun run on the speed. He’s a horse to reckon with.”

Chadwick will be back in the plate for Wednesday’s class-rising assignment.

“His debut run was nice, he carried top-weight and he held on nicely for second,” the jockey said

“He seems like he knows what he’s doing; he’s got ability we just have to see how he steps out at Happy Valley. 1200 (metres) second-up, it’s definitely interesting – he’s trialled well there so it looks a positive, although he is still learning about the environment but he’s a handy horse.”

Stronger’s smart rivals include the likes top-weight Ugly Warrior (133lb), Tornado Twist (127lb) and Big Party (122lb), as well as the Tony Cruz-trained Multimillion (121lb).

The Cruz galloper will make his Happy Valley debut following five wins over 1000m at Sha Tin. His only two starts at 1200m saw him finish 11th.

“He trialled at the Valley last month and he’s always gone well (when he has trialled) there, so it’ll be interesting to see how he goes,” said jockey Karis Teetan, who has a three from seven record on the five-year-old.

“I think the Happy Valley 1200 (metres) compared to a Sha Tin 1000 (metres) are two different things but I think the 1200 (metres) at the Valley for a horse like him, might just see him get a breather if he can find the lead, and from there they can find an extra gear towards the end, so I think it’s worth trying.”

Multimillion leads them home in a recent trial at the Valley.

Moore and Chadwick have combined once this season from 11 attempts and will be looking to improve that figure when they also team up with Happy Warrior (114lb) in the Class 3 Venus Handicap (Section 2, Race 4).

“When he got off the float yesterday and I had a good look at him – he looked an absolute treat!” Moore said of the Conghua-based galloper.

“He’s doing everything right, he’s come back from China and he’s drawn very well, so he’ll settle somewhere three back on the fence and I believe he’ll be right there in the finish.”

Moore has four runners on the night with My Ally (131lb) in the Class 3 Venus Handicap (Section 1, Race 5), as well as Shouson (129lb) in the Class 4 Saturn Handicap.

“Shouson’s in great form but he just draws poor gates,” he said. “With My Ally I’ve brought him back to 1200 (metres) because I think 1200 (metres) is preferable to 1400 (metres). I think the mile, that day when he won, he had a soft lead, a 10lb apprentice carrying a postage stamp and that’s how he got away with it!” Moore said.

“It’s got to be luck in running for them.”

Star ready to fulfill his potential

Amazing Star cruises to victory first-up this season.
Amazing Star cruises to victory first-up this season.

Amazing Star (124lb) has had his fair share of hiccups along the way but his five-and-a-half length win last-start highlighted Zac Purton’s strong opinion of him and the champion jockey is looking for a follow-up in the Class 3 Venus Handicap (1200m).

“He’s always shown that he has had that type of ability but he’s been plagued with a lot of issues throughout his career.

“But the time off has given him time to develop, strengthen up and mature a bit more and I think we’re seeing the product of that,” Purton said.

Purton partnered Amazing Star to his first win way back in 2017 when he was under the care of Chris So. A stable switch followed as well as only six appearances up to his latest win late last month.

“He’s definitely a better horse now, he’s developed a lot, he’s come a long way and I don’t see Class 3 being a problem, it’s just a matter of how the race is going to be run,” Purton said.

Amazing Star runs his rivals ragged at the Valley.

Amazing Star has had lameness issues and raced only twice last term but current handler Jimmy Ting’s patience is seeing the five-year-old gelding start to fulfill his potential.

“I always thought that he would be a Class 3 horse but he’s always had a problem, so that’s why he dropped to Class 4, but now that he’s healthy I think he can be competitive in Class 3,” Ting said.

Amazing Star will break from barrier one under Purton for his step back into Class 3 following a 12-point ratings rise.

“He did seem to relax in a trial when I rode him and at the Valley the other day – although another horse came up and worried him a little bit – but he wasn’t trying to reef and tear like has he done in the past, so mentally he’s a much better horse now and that could help him run further in time,” Purton said.

Wednesday’s nine-race card at Happy Valley commences at 6.45pm with the Class 5 Neptune Handicap (1650m).