Moore Needs A Big Day As Eagle Way Bids For Group 1 Glory

 May 23 2019

“We’ve got one hell of a day!” the handler said as he looked forward to unleashing a team of 13 on the 11-race programme, including star griffin Aethero, as well as Eagle Way in the G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m).

Eagle Way is seeking a first win since he set a 2000m track record in November’s G2 Jockey Club Cup. The chestnut rattled home in fast time when runner-up to Beauty Generation over a mile two starts back but failed to land a blow when ninth in the G1 QEII Cup (2000m) last time.

“His run in the mile - he looked like he was back in form and would be able to repeat when he ran in the QEII Cup the other day but he let us down - and with give in the ground too - so it was disappointing,” Moore said.

“The jury’s out with respect to whether he’s going to reproduce his best. The distance is ideal, he looks very well and everything, but it’s been a long season. His work leading into the race has been very good but I just expected him to hit the line last time. The fact that he’s mixing his form dims the confidence a bit.”

Umberto Rispoli was in the plate for the G1 Queensland Derby winner’s last two races but Neil Callan is booked for Sunday.

“I’ll take him, he’s a good ride,” Callan said. “He’s shown flashes of form and he won the Group 2 earlier in the season. He was very impressive then so we know he can mix it against the same type of horses. It’s all going to come down to draw, tempo, who gets the right run - all the circumstances of the race - but he’s capable. He’s definitely capable of winning.

“It’s an open field. There is not a standout in the race this year so if everything falls right he could be winning.”

Team Moore unleashed

Moore sits third in the title race, eight adrift of defending champion John Size and one behind fellow challenger Frankie Lor. His task is difficult with 15 meetings to go.

“To have a chance at winning the title, Sunday is very important. It’s not easy: John Size has got quite a good lead so we need a big day on the weekend to start to eat into that lead,” Moore said.

“I don't know what of the newer brigade John Size has to come along before the end of the season but I know I’ve still got plenty of firepower in the stable and with proper placement I still have winners to come.

“But then there’s Frankie too, it’s not like it’s all about me and John Size, Frankie’s got tons of firepower so it’s going to come down to all the factors like fitness, placement, where horses draw.”

Moore, though, has plenty of ammunition for Sunday and holds a firm hope that his rising stars might catapult him closer to Size’s current tally of 64 wins.

“We have quite a few really top chances; we’ve got Styling City, Dan Control, Thanks Forever taking on Voyage Warrior, Aethero and even Touch Of Luck, who I thought was pretty unlucky the other day.”

Leading the charge is unbeaten griffin Aethero, hugely impressive in a straight track 1000m win at his only start. The Sebring chestnut will stride out around the turn over 1200m for the first time in the Liberator Plate.

“Aethero will have no problem with the 1200 metres, none at all. He’s very talented and he’ll be out there to extend his winning sequence. He’s a two-year-old, so he’s just in the building stage but I look at him - definitely next season - as being special.”

Another exciting prospect is Thanks Forever, unraced since a good debut win last June. But the Duporth three-year-old will face off against the scintillating Ricky Yiu-trained Voyage Warrior in the Class 3 Werther Handicap (1000m).

“Thanks Forever has had two trials and we have a very high opinion of him so it would be nice to see him put some writing on the wall with respect to the talent I know he’s got,” Moore said.  “He’s not 100 percent due to a setback earlier in the season but he has plenty of ability and I’m sure he’ll run a nice race.”

Dan Control is another three-year-old project. After an eye-catching debut win, the Irish-bred posted an immature sixth-place defeat.

“We rode Dan Control in behind last time and he had hard luck throughout the race so we’ll forgive him that and hope for a good draw on the weekend so he can be right up on the speed like he was when he won,” the trainer said.

“He’s still a work in progress. He’s backward even though he’s talented - he’s an April foal so given time he’ll be a good horse.”

Meanwhile, Styling City could have taken his place in the G3 Sha Tin Vase Handicap (1200m) but Moore has opted to point owner Gary Ling’s pride at the Class 2 Viva Pataca Handicap over 1400m. All five of his career wins have been achieved over 1000m down the straight.

“I decided to give Styling City his chance at 1400 metres,” Moore said. “I didn’t want to go into the Group 3 off the ratings. He can get right up on the speed at the 1400 and all the signals I’m getting back from his races is that he wants to get over ground now.

“He seems to have a flat spot between the 500 (metres) and 300 (metres), like his mind is not on it. When the jockey gets to work on him he then hits the line again, so the 1400 should be just what he wants at this stage.” 

Whichever way the results fall on Sunday, Moore’s top-three position is a massive improvement on last year’s low of 12th-place in the championship and 33 wins. The trainer puts that blip down to “restructuring” and “management changes” around the stable but with the right staff in place and a team of bright young prospects, a good weekend could set him on his way to the biggest of bounce-backs.

“It’s getting exciting. It’s a big turnaround from last season to this!” he said.

- Hong Kong Jockey Club

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