Racing

Hail Rapper Dragon

Moore's champion the first to win all three legs of the HK 4YO Classic Series

RAPPER DRAGON made history at Sha Tin yesterday, teaming with Joao Moreira to win the 140th running of the HK$18 million ($3.25 million) BMW Hong Kong Derby over 2,000m.

The John Moore-trained gelding ensured his place in the record books as the first horse to win all three legs of Hong Kong's Four-Year-Old Classic Series.

It was Moreira's first win in the race. The champion jockey, a man accustomed to breaking new ground, was elated and teary-eyed after driving the 1.8 favourite through the rain to hold off the deep-closing Pakistan Star.

"I got emotional, I was saying to everyone beforehand that it was the race I wanted to win the most and thanks to God that I achieved that," said Moreira.

"I was given a 100 per cent fit horse by the team - John Moore, the mafoos, the owner - and we were able to deliver, so it's a dream come true.

"The rain that fell was a little concern but it was a concern to everyone because no one knew who was going to handle the going. My horse didn't mind it. He gave his best once again and delivered the third win in the series - the big one. There isn't much else I could wish for. He's proven that he's the best four-year-old around and I'm blessed to be his jockey."

For Moore, Rapper Dragon's win was his sixth in Hong Kong's blue riband, with the handler's tally now surpassing all others - one more than Brian Kan.

The Australian hailed the Street Boss four-year-old as "my champion", after watching the chestnut confirm the superiority over his peers that he had shown in the Hong Kong Classic Mile over 1,600m and Hong Kong Classic Cup over 1,800m).

"This is a really classy animal, he's done everything right, he progressed through the classes, today was the grand final and we won it,: said Moore, after his charge had scored by a length and three quarters in a time of 2min 02.88sec.

"It was a great ride by the jock - it's great that the horse has got some early speed so that he could lay up on a muddling speed."

Rapper Dragon settled in a handy rail berth behind the pace-setters My Darling and then, from early in the backstretch, stablemate Rodrico.

When Dinozzo skirted forward to press the lead on the turn for home, Moreira shifted Rapper Dragon off the fence and urged him forward into third turning in. An unbalancing bump from the fading Circuit Hassler did the 1.8 favourite no favours, but that proved to be a nondescript blip as Hong Kong's latest star quickened to the lead and powered home. - HKJC