John Moore on Tuesday morning (16 January) forwarded Good Standing as the pick of his Hong Kong Classic Mile quartet but sounded a note of caution ahead of this weekend’s HK$10 million feature.
“Good Standing’s the sharper of mine, he’s the miler,” the trainer said.
“It’s a pity he missed that race the other week because he’s a monster of a horse and he needs racing, so missing that was not ideal. The barrier trial he had last Friday was good but I still think he’s slightly lacking.”
Moore also has Group 1 winners Ruthven and Rivet engaged in the lucrative contest, as well as Grand Chancellor, and will give each a final pre-race gallop later this week in preparation for Sunday’s enthralling Four-Year-Old Classic Series first leg.
“Ruthven’s more a stayer but he ran a good race on debut over 1400 metres, he just hit a flat spot between the four and the three hundred (metres) but then ran on really well. It was a good run given the condition he’s been carrying as an entire,” he said.
“All of them will gallop on Thursday morning. We’ve got to remember that this year’s circumstances mean that my horses are being set for the Derby in March and that Good Standing had the setback with the crack in his heel.”
Last season, Moore’s Rapper Dragon took the Classic Mile en route to making history as the first horse to complete a clean sweep of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series, thanks to follow-up wins in the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) and BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m). But the handler’s current crop is not as forward, nor as sharp.
“They’re going to be at their absolute peak come Derby time,” he said. “Everyone knows how I train my horses, how I target particular races, and with these horses this year, the main target for them is the Derby and they’ll be right on song when the time comes.”
The John Size-trained Nothingilikemore is the top-rated among the Hong Kong Classic Mile’s 13 entrants. The exciting bay’s handicap mark of 112 puts him 10 points clear of the next highest-rated, and another potentially top-class galloper, the Tony Cruz-trained Exultant.