If the battle for the trainers’ championship does go right to the wire at Sha Tin on Sunday (14 July), the John Moore trained Thanks Forever (120lb) will have to overcome 13 rivals in a hot race which also features the John Size duo of Hezthewonforus (121lb) and Mr So And So (121lb).
Thanks Forever is stretching to 1400m for the first time following a first career defeat over 1200m last time.
“He’s bred to go 1400 (metres) and any cut in the ground will be good for him,” Moore said of Zac Purton’s mount.
“It was the kick-back that did him last time,” he continued. “It was the first time he’d got in behind and copped a bit. In the 1000-metre races he was just in the clear the whole time, so we’re conscious of that going into the race. If there’s a bit of speed on, Zac can just sit in behind that from gate five – that’s a great gate, he can get across and have a little bit of daylight.
“Forget the last run, he just wasn’t travelling well. I don’t really think he was just one-paced in the last 200 (metres), I think he was just struggling to get balanced up. He didn’t hit the line like he has done previously with Zac. I’m hoping Zac, the way he’s riding, can get him running, and if he does, I think he’s a big chance.”
Size’s two have drawn wide, with Hezthewonforus set to break from 12 under Joao Moreira and Mr So And So drawn 11 under Chad Schofield. Hezthewonforus returned form a 10-month lay-off to win two starts back but was only fifth upped to a mile last time; Mr So And So has been in good form of late and was a half-length second to the smart Not Usual Talent over 1650m at the Valley earlier this month.
“I don’t think you can (split them), they’re handicapped up to what they can do,” Size said. “Mr So And So has been getting some extra rating because of his placings and Hezthewonforus came back a winner, so they’re handicapped up to their best.”
And, of the man who could prevent him from sealing an 11th championship, he said: “He has a fantastic record, he’s won a lot of big races and he’s been in Hong Kong for a long time. He’s proved himself time and time again so his record speaks for itself.”