It's all systems go with final gallops done
While the attention has been drawn towards the 22 contenders of the two International races all week, it was the comeback of Singapore's four-time champion jockey Joao Moreira that stole the show yesterday morning.
The mercurial Brazilian jockey had not ridden at Kranji since his last meeting on Oct 13 lastyear, when his win-meter stopped whizzing away at 723 wins before he left for Hong Kong to continue his career.
Back for a flying visit just to ride the John Moore-trained pair of MILITARY ATTACK (Singapore Airlines International Cup) and STERLING CITY (KrisFlyer International Sprint) in trackwork, Moreira returns to Hong Kong to ride at today's Sha Tin meeting.
He will return tomorrow in a bid to add the two races that have eluded him in his five stellar seasons in Singapore.
First out yesterday was Sterling City and Moreira put the Dubai Golden Shaheen winner through his paces on the turf course at around 5am.
His mount strode out nicely down the home stretch without being asked too much, clocking 39.2sec for the final 600m.
About 15 minutes later, Moreira was on Military Attack.
Last season's Hong Kong Horse of the Year galloped in company with fellow Group 1 Singapore International Airlines Cup hope DAN EXCEL.
The pair ran first and second last year, when Military Attack sluiced to an impressive triumph.
Yesterday morning, Dan Excel played the hare from the 1,200m as Moreira's mount tracked.
The pair lengthened down the home stretch and Military Attack closed upsides his work mate with minimum fuss.
The John Moore-trained horses went by the winning post in unison without being unduly extended, clocking 37.6sec for the last 600m.
"That was a nice piece of work from my three," said Moore.
"The horses are all eating up, they're putting on good weight and, if anything, they're doing better than they were in Dubai."
Military Attack and Sterling City are the favourites for tomorrow's two Group 1 races.
Kranji-based trainer Patrick Shaw's SIA Cup candidate JOHNNY GUITAR (Barend Vorster) galloped on the Polytrack in 38.6, while stablemate and KrisFlyer contender SLEW OF LODE (John Powell) clocked 37.4.
England's SIA Cup hope MULL OF KILLOUGH (Damien Oliver) breezed over 600m on the Polytrack in 39.4.
Oliver also galloped England's MEDICEAN MAN on the Polytrack in 39.9.
France's SIA Cup aspirant SMOKING SUN went for a canter on the turf under track rider Patrick Lemagny, with American SIA Cup challenger SI SAGE leading him two lengths clear, before eventually passing him in the home straight to run the last 600m in 41sec.
With most of the solid work done, the stage is now set for battle in Singapore's SIA Cup and KrisFlyer tomorrow.