Last year’s Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) winner Mogul returns on Sunday (12 December) to defend his title and leads a three-pronged attack on International Day at Sha Tin from the formidable Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore training and riding combination.
Mogul, a four-year-old son of Galileo, has not won in four starts since last year’s Hong Kong success. However, that victory was his third from as many runs right-handed at 2400 metres on good ground and jockey Moore believes his 2021 performances can be excused.
“He’s had a quiet year,” Moore said. “He started in Dubai and ran respectably and (then) ran a good race in Paris in the Prix Ganay (Group 1, 2100m) before the ground was very soft at Epsom for the Coronation and he didn’t like it and it was the same again when he went back to Deauville.
“A few things haven’t gone quite right for him through the summer, so he’s been lightly raced. His work’s been good at home and he looks great. We know he likes Sha Tin and he likes quick ground. I believe Aidan’s very happy with him, so we’re hoping that he can step back in the right direction.
“He showed a couple of times last year he’s very talented. He’s a handsome horse with a great pedigree and I still have faith that he can get back on track. Aidan would like to have put a run in him but that didn’t happen but we think he’s in good shape. I suppose Mogul would look our best chance on paper”.
Moore and O’Brien, of course, combined with the most recent multiple Vase winner Highland Reel who scored in 2015, was second in 2016 and won again in 2017 immediately before his retirement to stud.
Zoffany filly Mother Earth, a dual Group 1 winner in 2021, represents the stable in the Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) and Moore says she can be forgiven a last-start Breeders’ Cup Mile failure and be competitive in what he describes as a “very strong” edition of the 1600 metres Group 1.
“She’s a wonderful filly. She’s strong and she’s been very busy, on the go all year and late on as a two-year-old as well,” Moore said. “The race in Del Mar (Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile), she drew in the middle and didn’t get away that quickly, the pace was steady and it was impossible to make up ground in that very short straight there.
“She’s been consistent all year. The race on Sunday is very strong with Golden Sixty and a live Japanese contingent. It’s going to be tough for her but she’s got a nice draw, gets a nice weight pull and she usually runs a good race. I think Sha Tin will suit and she’ll enjoy the quick ground.” Moore said.
Bolshoi Ballet returns to 2000 metres, after two failures at 2400 metres, in the Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) and the drop in trip may be key to his prospects, according to the jockey.
“He won a Grade 1 in America at ten (furlongs) and his two wins at the start of the year were over the ten furlongs (2000 metres). He’s obviously very happy at that distance. I had high hopes for him and (while) he hasn’t run bad races lately I would like to have seen a little bit more from him.
“The quick ground will be in his favour and I don’t think Sha Tin will be any problem. The two Japanese fillies (Lei Papale and Loves Only You) bring a high level of form and will be tough to beat but he (Bolshoi Ballet) is a nice type of horse and I still believe there’s a good horse in there. He’s a Group 1 winner and hopefully can run a respectable race,” Moore said.
Recently crowned LONGINES World’s Best Jockey, Moore also picks up the ride on Hot King Prawn for trainer John Size in the Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).
“He’s very consistent horse and obviously a Group 1 winner around Sha Tin. He’s got a nice draw. Pixie Knight might be a level above but I’m very much looking forward to riding him (Hot King Prawn). He’s had his prep race and hopefully will come forward. He’s in there with a definite chance,” Moore said.