Xtension landed his biggest success when seeing off the re-opposing Lucky Nine to win last year’s G1 BMW Champions Mile and with the 2012 renewal just three days away, trainer John Moore is working to return the five-year-old to peak form after his recent trip to Dubai.
The Xaar entire was not among the Moore contingent that galloped the Sha Tin turf this morning, the trainer having sent him out a day in advance of his stablemates.
“Xtension galloped yesterday because we’re trying to get his weight back on and happy again,” said Moore of the horse, who was fifth on his latest start in the G1 Dubai Duty Free on 31 March. “My assistant trainer rides him every morning and he’s happy with him – every day he says he’s improved physically and mentally. We’re going into the race open-minded that he could be a little jaded after the trip to Dubai but he’s sound as a bell, so the only question mark is whether he can be as primed as he was last year.”
Moore has five runners in Sunday’s showpiece and four of that quintet worked on the turf track this morning. Admiration pleased the trainer as he covered 1200m in 1m 20.1s, with a final 400m clocked at 23.6s.
“Admiration has worked the place down in the lead-up to this race but needs really strong riding and I’ve impressed that on his jockey, Weichong Marwing, otherwise he can be a little laid back,” commented Moore.
Destined For Glory was timed at 1m 26.1s with a final 400m split of 24s, while Sunny King registered 1m 19.8s as he covered the last 400m in 23.3s, and veteran Able One appeared in good order as he went through in 1m 21s with a last 400m clocked at 23.5s.
The 50-year-old Jeff Lloyd combined with Able One to win the G1 CXHK Mile for Moore last December and the jockey believes it's not beyond the realms of possibility that the nine-year-old could add another mile major to his resume.
“The old boy's doing well,” Lloyd said of Able One, “His run in the Chairman’s Trophy was very good and he's better again since that run. His coat's good and when his coat's good you know he's happy and when he's happy he flies.”
Lloyd, whose contract ends after Sunday's meeting, added that Able One “tends to come good at this time of the year.” That's supported by his 2007 and 2010 wins in this race. The son of Cape Cross was also runner-up in the 2008 CXHK Mile and thus boasts three wins and a second from eight starts in Hong Kong's two feature mile races.
Tim Clark takes the ride on another of Moore's hopes Sunny King. “It's a very tough race and he probably needs luck on his side to win it but I can tell you he is going very well,” Clark said.
Beauty Flash notched a hat-trick of G1s in Hong Kong last season and also ran fourth to Xtension in the BMW Champions Mile. Tony Cruz's charge has fallen short of that standard this term and the trainer is realistic about the six-year-old's chances on Sunday, saying, “The horse doesn't seem the same as he was but he's fit to run and he'll take his place in the race.”
Musir (PICTURED), third last year, is one of only two overseas-trained runners to have been placed and he's back for another try after finishing sixth behind Cityscape in the Dubai Duty Free. “He's ticking along well,” said jockey Kevin Shea who was aboard him this morning.