LONGINES HK MILE - 1,600m Moreira's Able Friend
ONE-HORSE RACE: Moreira having an armchair ride on Able Friend in the Hong Kong Mile. - PHOTO: HKJC
The writing was on the wall when world-class jockey Joao Moreira steered ABLE FRIEND to take the lead-up Group 2 Jockey Club Mile three weeks ago.
Yesterday, the former four-time Singapore champion wasted no time to describe the John Moore-trained five-year-old horse as the best horse he has ridden when he brought the capacity Hong Kong crowd at Sha Tin to their feet by scoring a ridiculously easy victory in the HK$23 million Longines Hong Kong Mile over 1,600m.
Able Friend's come-from-behind four-and-a-quarter-length victory over fellow Hong Kong runner and pacemaker Gold-Fun was said to be the easiest in the series.
It also gave Hong Kong its ninth straight HK Mile win, starting with The Duke in 2006. The last foreign horse to win this race was Japan's Hat Trick in 2005.
Although he had only one horse behind him early, Moreira was unperturbed. He bided his time. Gold-Fun led by a couple of lengths but was joined by last year's winner Glorious Days and another Hong Kong runner, Secret Sham, turning for home.
Moreira, who had saved ground for most of the way, weaved his way out for clear running in the straight. Once he saw daylight, Able Friend went into the high gear that others didn't have.
It was all over 300m out, as Able Friend left his struggling rivals as if they were standing still.
It was such an easy and phenomenal win that Moreira had relaxed and punched his fist in delight before the winning post. He could have won by a bigger margin.
Said Moreira: "Well, sitting on top of this type of horse, there was no way he was going to lose. He was just too good and definitely the best horse I've ridden in my life.
"I've to say thanks to the owner who believed I could get the best out of this horse and the trainer for giving me the opportunity to sit on him. And the horse himself. He was simply amazing. He's the best horse I've sat on and now I have to go and celebrate."
Although he looked to have a tough task trapped behind a wall of horses, the Brazilian knew the gap would present itself - and it did.
"I knew the horses in front of me would shift out and I was always able to come in on the inside and peel him wide, and that was what happened. I was like able to get a beautiful run, cut some corners turning for home and, when I pressed the button a little bit, he just flew away.
"Three hundred metres to go, I knew he was going to win - and win easily."