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Hong Kong horseman John Moore has confirmed Dubai is the preferred option over a trip to Australia for Sydney’s The Championships this autumn for his Hong Kong Mile champion Able Friend.
Race fans down under will have to wait until Monday or Tuesday next week before the Shamardal five-year-old is officially ruled out of an appearance in Oz this season when Aussie expat Moore has lunch with the horse’s owner Dr. Li.
“At the present moment it is still up in the air,” Moore teased.
At that lunch he told Sky Sports Radio on Friday morning they would discuss the pros and cons of a Dubai bid over that for a Sydney appearance during the autumn carnival but that they were leaning towards the former for a number of reasons.
“We are going to have lunch with the owner Dr. Li on Monday and run through all the pros and cons of a trip to Dubai,” he said.
“My favourite is to go to Dubai because of many factors that put it ahead of The Championships.
“They are the 10 day turnaround and the fact it’s worth over $6 million US and the fact we can get him in and out of the country so quick and it doesn’t affect the programming her in Hong Kong.”
There has been plenty of interest all around the world for Able Friend to race internationally including from Japan and Australia as well as the United Arab Emirates Moore said.
“The Japanese were the first cab off the rank,” he said.
“They approached me but as I said we’ll weight up all the pros and cons and make sure it doesn’t affect the Hong Kong program as he does have a big fan base here.
“To get your hands on a horse like this is exhilarating.”
Able Friend would have been a juicy addition to the autumn smorgasbord of stars travelling from overseas to take advantage of the riches on offer from the Sydney race clubs this carnival.
A winner of nine of his 15 starts to date he is no stranger to Australian racing having started his career in Sydney back in November of 2012 with Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes before heading to Hong Kong.
Since he arrived with Moore he has been a genuine hero for the stable and one of the country’s most consistent performers winning five of his opening nine starts at Sha Tin including last year’s Group 1 Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m).
He also ran second in three Group 1 majors over 1600m – 1800m when runner-up in last year’s Hong Kong Classic Cup, Hong Kong Derby and The Champions Mile.
His most recent form has also been outstanding and is headlined by his barnstorming four and a half-length victory over Gold-Fun in the Group 1 The Longines Hong Kong Mile (1600m) in mid-December.
That was an easy victory and one he backed up from 42 days later with a similarly impressive effort at the same track and distance last weekend.
On January 25 Able Friend proved his class once more with an effortless one and a quarter length win in the Group 1 The Stewards’ Cup (1600m), his incredible sectional times leaving Moore in awe as always.
“Like any trainer, I sue the word exhilarating as it amazes me how he can go through the gears so quickly,” he said.
“He makes some pretty good horses here in Hong Kong look pretty ordinary.”
Able Friend’s versatility and adaptability during a race also puts him at an advantage over his rivals according to his devoted trainer who rates him the best horse he’s ever trained.
“It doesn’t matter if the speed is on or if it isn’t on, he can go through those sectionals so quick and break 22 (seconds) every time,” Moore said.
“He is better than all the rest that I’ve trained before.”
In Dubai Moore said the galloper’s aim would be the Group 1 Dubai Turf (1800m), formerly known as the Dubai Duty Free, at Meydan Racecourse on the Dubai World Cup Night on February 28th.
Before that he would race again in Hong Kong in the Group 1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) next month.
“I think it’s the 15th of February, the Queen’s Jubilee,” Moore said.
“It’s worth one point six million Australian, that would be his next race over 1400m and that would fit in nicely to travel a week or 10 days later into Dubai for what was the Duty Free.
“He’ll be ready for that race on the 28th over the mile and a quarter.”
Moore also admitted to having a soft spot for Royal Ascot, the famous English carnival also being considered for Able Friend this year.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for Royal Ascot and to participate in the Royal Ascot races, to win one of the Group 1 races over there would be something great for the CV,” he said.
“It would be the Queen Anne over a straight mile at Royal Ascot.
“We attend Royal Ascot every year to identify horses that would be suitable for Hong Kong and we go after them.
“The meeting is very special, very much like Melbourne at the (spring) carnival.”
The Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes (1609m) runs at Ascot in June.
While Able Friend is an unlikely visitor in this Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, Moore will still be over to train stablemate Dominant who will stay on in Australia after with a trainer yet to be decided.
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