Werther pulls out champion qualities to win Jockey Club Cup

Werther has firmed for the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup next month after winning the Jockey Club Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday. Photo: HKJC

IT was a successful weekend for the Tavistock/Bagalollies family with Gobstopper winning the New Zealand Cup and brother Werther taking out Sunday night’s Group 2 Jockey Club Cup.

The former Australasian runner needed to call upon its champion qualities to get the job done at Sha Tin, but the win now sets up the former Horse of the Year for next month’s Group 1 Hong Kong Cup – the only 2000m contest Werther has yet to capture in Hong Kong.

A career sweep of the Hong Kong Derby, QEII Cup, Hong Kong Gold Cup and the Hong Kong Cup would cap off a tremendous career for the gelding and winning jockey Tommy Berry believes it’s right on track.

“He’s exactly where we want him to be, there are exciting times ahead,” Berry said.

Berry had Werther well off the pace, set by stablemate Harbour Master, but when it looked as though second favourite Time Warp (Joao Moreira) had victory in its sights, Werther was in for the fight.

“That was a cracking good run considering it was his second run this season,” said trainer John Moore, who was registering a fifth success in the race. “His fitness was really tested and he will improve for this run.

“The speed that Harbour Master went up front today really tested his fitness level, which wasn’t 100 percent. We got away with it and now we go to the Hong Kong Cup. He’ll come away from this race in better fettle for that grand final.”

The victory prompted bookmakers to firm Werther into $2.75 at CrownBet.com.au for the Hong Kong Cup, but he’s the form runner heading into the International meeting feature.

“He’s not fully fit and he’s beaten them all there carrying a five-pound penalty, so that gives us confidence for three weeks’ time,” Moore added.

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Australian jockey Tommy Berry agreed and believes there’s more to come for Werther, which seemingly enjoyed the softer track conditions at Sha Tin on Sunday.

“He’s really come on since his first run when we thought he’d a finish a bit closer than he did, and I think the cut in the track today really suited him,” Berry said.

“I said before today that he’ll be spot on for December and I think that showed. He just ran out of gas a bit the last 100 metres and Joao took me off my course a little bit where he lost his balance.

“All in all he’s going great and I’m looking forward to December with him.

“There’s probably another 10 percent to come, but even with the race being run the way it was, it sort of made us make up a fair bit before the corner, which probably took a bit of dash out of him as well.”

Joao Moreira was pleased with the run of Time Warp, which reeled in Harbour Master with ease before being outgunned over the concluding stages.

“It was a lovely run,” Moreira said. “The leader just went a bit too fast, so I was happy to sit behind him. And when I went past, I was left in front for quite some time. I was beaten in the last 100 metres.

“I was beaten by a good horse, and I was very pleased with my horse’s run.”

Werther was a $2.20 favourite at Sportsbet to win the Jockey Club Cup, the first favourite to win the race since Viva Pataca in 2008.

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