Expat Australian turned champion Hong Kong trainer John Moore celebrated two Group 1 wins at Sha Tin on Sunday including the odds-on favourite Able Friend in the Hong Kong Mile 2014.
The Moore stable enjoyed a win over Military Attack and Australian galloper Criterion in the Hong Kong Cup with Designs On Rome, and then won the HK$23 million Group 1 The Longines Hong Kong Mile (1600m) with Able Friend.
Ridden by ‘The Magic Man’ Joao Moreira, the Shamardal five-year-old returned and successfully defended his Hong Kong International Mile title having beaten home Designs On Rome in the race 12 months ago.
The Brazilian-bred Moreira was aboard Able Friend last start too when he scored an all-too-easy two and a half-length victory over Gold-Fun in the Group 2 Jockey Club Mile (1600m) from November 23.
The duo were able to complete the double on Sunday in an even more authoritative victory, Able Friend overcoming the outside barrier to repeat the same quinella with a four and a quarter length success over the Douglas Whyte-ridden pacesetter Gold-Fun who was also runner-up in the 2013 Hong Kong Mile.
“(Trainer) Richard (Gibson) and I talked about it and it was always going to be difficult to beat Able Friend,” Whyte said after his loss.
“It didn’t look like much speed in the race, Gold-Fun had the visor on and we just thought to try something different.
“He fought back and was very tough and in the end still finished second. He probably would have whatever we did.”
In third just a quarter length further away again was then Japan’s Grand Prix Boss.
A speedy pace worked in the hot favourite’s favour, Able Friend heading to the back of the pack before threading him through the runners to storm home without breaking a sweat.
“The way he won, coming from a long way back, just passing by runner after runner, and not ever needing the whip – he’s just an amazing horse,” Moreira said.
Post-win Moreira declared Able Friend as the best horse he’d ever ridden, and in the wake of the win the horse is likely to become the highest-rated Hong Kong-trained horse of all time.
“It has to be agreed by my colleagues but my initial view is (a new rating of) 126 or 127, which makes him the highest-rated Hong Kong-trained horse of all time,” the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s chief handicapper Nigel Gray told the South China Morning Post on Monday.
Moore agreed he had a very serious racehorse on his hands declaring him “one of the better milers on the planet.”
“He repeated what he did in the trial. It’s phenomenal,” he said.
“He relaxes and he’s got an explosive turn of foot – the way he ran past some serious horses today, I think I’ve got one of the better milers on the planet.”
Moore also said Able Friend had surpassed star stablemate Designs On Rome as the better horse in 2014, especially when it came to physical maturity.
“Last season, when he was 1,240 pounds, Able Friend always looked like just a frame,” Moore said.
“He’s developed more than Designs On Rome. He’s now over 1,300 pounds and he’s a monster and it is showing.”
See below for the full Hong Kong Mile 2014 results.
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2014 Hong Kong Mile Results
|1||1||ABLE FRIEND(P303)||J Moreira||11||–||1.33.49|
|3||4||GRAND PRIX BOSS(P608)||Y Iwata||1||4-1/2||1.34.21|
|4||9||WORLD ACE(T612)||Z Purton||4||5||1.34.27|
|5||3||GLORIOUS DAYS(M353)||M Demuro||7||5||1.34.30|
|7||8||TRADE STORM(T610)||J Spencer||5||6||1.34.45|
|8||11||HANA’S GOAL(T602)||N Rawiller||3||6-1/4||1.34.47|
|9||10||SECRET SHAM(P174)||N Callan||2||9||1.34.91|
|10||7||CAPTAIN CAT(T609)||J Doyle||8||10-1/4||1.35.14|
|–||5||AMBITIOUS DRAGON(K399)||R Moore||—||—||—||—|