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Horse Racing Hong Kong: Military Attack wins Gold Cup

Military Attack with Joao Moreira after winning 2014 Hong Kong Gold CupMilitary Attack reasserted his authority over his domestic rivals this afternoon, Sunday, 23 February, with an imperious victory in the HKG1 Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) that puts Hong Kong’s reigning Horse of the Year firmly on course for a date in Dubai at the end of March.

“It was great to watch and he’s back to where he was last season,” said trainer John Moore after the Oratorio six-year-old had sluiced to a second consecutive win in the race.

Moore’s charge had been shunted to the shadows in four defeats this term, as Akeed Mofeed in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) and most recently Blazing Speed in the HKG1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) stole the champion’s thunder. But Military Attack had shown sparks of promise in those defeats and stepped on to the sun-soaked Sha Tin turf looking primed to defend his title in the race that constitutes the second leg of the Hong Kong Triple Crown series.

“As I said going into the race, if he didn’t get stuck in the box seat he’d be winning the race, because leading into it he’d done everything right, his blood was just right on song,” continued Moore.

At the outset, the winner’s stablemate Dan Excel jumped to the lead under Neil Callan, and the new partnership of Joao Moreira and Military Attack was content to stalk on the rail. Blazing Speed sat upsides the leader under Mirco Demuro, while Douglas Whyte positioned the imposing presence of Akeed Mofeed on Military Attack’s outside flank.

But as the pace quickened out of the back stretch, there was a hint that Whyte was not entirely comfortable on Akeed Mofeed. Sure enough, as Dan Excel led the field of seven into the final turn, Moreira tested the race favourite and found his rival wanting – the Brazilian nudged the smooth-travelling Military Attack out from the inside berth and was soon ahead of the ill at ease Akeed Mofeed

“You could see Akeed Mofeed labouring coming to the corner and my horse was just able to push his way out, and then we saw the Military Attack acceleration,” said Moore.

Blazing Speed pressed Dan Excel for supremacy at the top of the home stretch, but just as that duo began a determined tussle to the wire, the race was all but over. Military Attack loomed upsides and unleashed a brilliant turn-of-foot to sweep clear with 200m to race. And in a scenario that echoed his scintillating win in the G1 Singapore Airlines International Cup (2000m) at Kranji last season, Moreira’s mount surged three lengths clear of runner-up Dan Excel to register a quick time of 2m 01.21s.

“Good horses always make jockeys’ lives easier,” said Moreira of last season’s G1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2000m) winner. “When we turned for home I was able to obtain a clear run on the outside of the leaders and just kick away from them.”

Moore and owner Steven Lo now have their sights set firmly on Dubai, although the trainer hopes that this win may have convinced officials there to reassess the focus of their invitation.

“I entered him for both the Dubai Duty Free (1800m, turf) and the Dubai World Cup (2000m, Tapeta). I wanted to get him into the World Cup, but I have to accept that his form wasn’t on the board and they put him back to the Duty Free. But maybe I’ll get a telephone call and they’ll say, ‘would you like to run in the World Cup?’ and the answer will be that I’d love to run in the World Cup!”

Moore, for the second Sunday running, registered a 1-2-3 in a local G1 as LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) hero Dominant ran home strongly to finish a short-head third, a neck ahead of the Tony Cruz-trained Blazing Speed. Akeed Mofeed was fifth.

“Tommy (Berry) got off and he was very pleased with Dominant,” said Moore of his Dubai Sheema Classic (2410m) entrant. “Dominant was doing his best work at the finish and he keeps grinding. Tommy said whatever he did today the horse will improve on in Dubai.”

The Hong Kong Triple Crown, which commenced with the Stewards’ Cup in January, concludes on 25 May with the HKG1 Champions & Chater Cup (2400m). There is a HK$2 million bonus to any horse that can win any two legs of the series.

From Hong Kong Jockey Club

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