Racing

Former world's highest-rated horse Able Friend retired

HK champion will be given a farewell ceremony at Sha Tin on Sunday to honour his outstanding career

Hong Kong's ABLE FRIEND, once the world's highest-rated thoroughbred, will be retired from racing and will parade in front of his fans at Sha Tin racecourse on Sunday afternoon, during a farewell ceremony to honour his outstanding career.

The brilliant Shamardal gelding raced in the famous black-and-gold trimmed silks of the late Dr Cornel Li and was a superstar with a powerful turn-of-pace.

Able Friend achieved the highest rating by any galloper in the history of Hong Kong horseracing, and was the world champion sprinter in 2015, Hong Kong's Horse of the Year and Champion Miler, and a four-time Group 1 winner.

"He was the equal of any horse on the planet at his peak," his trainer, John Moore, said.

"He'll be known as a legend here, he's earned his place in Hong Kong folklore as that strapping, big chestnut with the electrifying turn-of-foot.

"The public really took to him, he had them in awe with some of the things he did. He just obliterated the best here in Hong Kong.

"It was great that this horse came to Dr Li. He would be any owner's dream, a horse of that calibre, and Dr Li was a true horseman - he knew his bloodstock, he loved his racing and he deserved to own a horse like Able Friend, a standout champion.

"Personally, it was a great privilege for me to have had the opportunity to be involved with Able Friend - to identify him, to see him go from provincial racing to being, at one time, the world's highest-rated horse, reaching that all-time high rating (for a Hong Kong horse) of 127.

He'll be known as a legend here, he's earned his place in Hong Kong folklore as that strapping, big chestnut with the electrifying turn-of-foot. Trainer John Moore, on Able Friend

"It was an honour to be given that stewardship, to guide him through his career - it was a dream. While we'll miss him, I'm sure, when he gets back to the farm where he was born, he'll enjoy a lovely retirement - probably eye-balling sheep and cattle."

Able Friend, who has been plaqued with a leg injury for a while, will retire to the Ramsey family's picturesque Turangga Farm in New South Wales, where he was foaled, his dam being the Volksraad mare Ponte Piccolo.

He ends his stellar career with a record of 12 wins from 24 starts in Hong Kong for earnings of HK$61,333,624 (S$10.9 million).

Standouts among his many highlights include a knock-out win in the 2014 Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile, a dominant score in the 2015 Group 1 Champions Mile, and, in that same year, two astonishing performances in the Group 1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup (1,400m) and the domestic Group 2 Bowl Handicap (1,200m).

Joao Moreira, who rode the Australian-bred 16 times for seven wins, including each of his Group 1 scores, is on record as saying that Able Friend is probably the best horse he has ever ridden.

"He means a lot to me because he gave me my first Group 1 win in Hong Kong (the HK Group 1 Hong Kong Classic Mile), he gave me my first international Group 1 race here," said the champion jockey.

"Obviously, very few horses here have given me what he has. I'm not talking about prize money, but I'm talking about pride.

"To be associated with such a nice horse that has had such a great career, like him, I can't ask for much more.

"Everything that has come from him has been very special, he has a place in my heart and I'm very happy that he is going to have a beautiful life in a paddock." - HJKC