Rapper Dragon creates history with Hong Kong Derby victory

Rapper Dragon
Rapper Dragon makes history by winning the Group 1 Hong Kong Derby and the Four-Year-old Classic Series

HISTORY was made at Sha Tin on Sunday night as Rapper Dragon became the first horse in history to sweep all three legs of the Hong Kong Four-Year-Old Classic Series.

The impressive Rapper Dragon was the $1.70 favourite at Sportsbet for the Hong Kong Derby and the result never looked in doubt as jockey Joao Moreira found a beautiful position in running.

It was Moreira’s first Hong Kong Derby win and the champion rider was emotional following the historic victory on Sunday.

“I got emotional, I was saying to everyone beforehand that it was the race I wanted to win the most and thanks to God that I achieved that,” Moreira said.

“I was given a 100 per cent fit horse by the team – John Moore, the mafoos, the owner – and we were able to deliver, so it’s a dream come true.”

Moreira admitted the showery forecast caused some worry, but after getting a gun run throughout the distance race, it was clear that Rapper Dragon was thriving in the conditions.

“The rain that fell was a little concern but it was a concern to everyone because no one knew who was going to handle the going,” Moreira said.

“My horse didn’t mind it, he gave his best once again and delivered the third win in the series – the big one.

“There isn’t much else I could wish for. He’s proven that he’s the best four-year-old around and I’m blessed to be his jockey.”

The son of Street Boss gave trainer John Moore his sixth Hong Kong Derby win and he was quick to pay credit to the ride.


“This is a really classy animal, he’s done everything right, he progressed through the classes, today was the grand final and we won it,” Moore said.

“It was a great ride by the jock – it’s great that the horse has got some early speed so that he could lay up on a muddling speed.

“They didn’t make it easy for him, but Joao had a lot of horse and when he came in he said the horse just loved the going.

“Joao said there was a moment or two there when he probably was in a tight position but he extricated himself and hit the line like he usually does – really, really strongly.”

Pakistan Star lived up to its hype by running a slashing second. It closed off in 22.90s and gave Moriera a few nervous moments halfway down the Sha Tin straight.

“He proved that he can overcome those circumstances,” Moreira said. “When he got in front a little bit too early, he started to snake around a bit. He went in, he went out, I had to switch the whip, left and right, and switch it again. But good horses can do those things and still win the races.

“He’d never been in front that far from home before. It was also his first time at 2000m and they start in front of the grandstand, so the starting gate was inside the track and he had a look at it – he’d never experienced that before.”

John Moore believes Rapper Dragon will continue to represent his stable at the highest level. The QEII or Champions Mile could be on the cards for the impressive four-year-old.

“I’ll call him my champion because he’s won me a Derby,” Moore said. In that respect we’ve got another champion in Hong Kong.

“Whether he can take the place of Able Friend, that’s still to be seen – he’d have to go on and win a QEII or a Champions Mile.

“But Hong Kong’s got another star and I’m proud to have him in my stable.”

Moore said the Champions Mile was the likely target as he doesn’t want to clash with superstar and former Australasian champion Werther.

“We’re going to toss-up between the Champions Mile and the QEII,” Moore said. “I want to dodge Werther though, the way Werther’s working at the moment – his work the other morning was just unbelievable.

“Rapper Dragon’s got versatility so I’m sure I can freshen him up and bring him back to the mile – he’s got the gate speed, so I’m sure he’d be a live chance in the Champions Mile.

“He’s still improving. This is a really serious horse. We got him as a two-year-old and we’ve had a lot of time to acclimate him. To find him is unbelievable and for Hong Kong to have him is the bonus.

“For the international races coming up and the races in December, we’ve got a horse that can do well for Hong Kong.”

Silvestre de Sousa rode Pakistan Star on Sunday night and he believes there’s plenty of improvement left the Tony Cruz-trained runner.

“He’s run a nice race,” de Sousa said. “He stays well but he just got beaten by a nice horse.

“When I burst through he gave me a dash but when I got to the winner he just picked up again. Both horses went on the ground but when you ride a horse from the back it’s always a bit difficult, but I’m happy with the way he went through. The best horse won.

“There’s still a bit up his sleeve for next year. When you sit on him and look behind there’s no quarters and his neck is still a bit narrow.

“He’ll definitely be better next year!”

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