The last Group One of the Hong Kong season is the Champions & Chater Cup, 2,400m on Sunday at Sha Tin with John Moore out to build on his latest big-race successes and trying to win the race for a sixth time.
Moore is double-handed in the Cup, with Dominant and Irian, and it’s the Military Attack team as Zac Purton pilots his main chance, Dominant.
The stayer was considered short of his top winning the Queen Mother Cup over the same distance last start, when he’d had one 1,600m race in six months as a preparation, and he is sure to be fitter now but this is a tougher assignment.
His main stumbling block looks the redoubtable Tony Cruz-trained California Memory, who has been one of the class acts at 2,000m in Hong Kong for several seasons, but tackles the extra 400m for the first time. His second in the QE II Cup to Military Attack last time out has a strong look to it now and the grey seems sure to be the top public fancy.
Moore’s Royal Ascot-bound Time After Time lines up in the other highlight, the Sha Tin Vase, 1,200m, carrying top weight under the handicap conditions as he gets ready for the Golden Jubilee Stakes next month.
The race won’t be any soft touch, with quality stablemates Frederick Engels and Captain Sweet opposing Time After Time along with Michael Chang’s Rich Tapestry, while some smart gallopers, like David Hall’s Solar Great, are getting in with light handicaps.
The season’s trainers’ championship continues to be an engrossing battle, with only three wins across Dennis Yip, Tony Cruz and John Size, while Caspar Fownes is three further adrift. Fownes could make up some ground though as his chances include impressive debut runner-up My Favourite and last-start winner, Best Show.
By Nathan Mody