Racing

Rapper Dragon is 'the best in town'

Trainer John Moore's Hong Kong's Four-Year-Old Classic Series champion takes the Group 2 Chairman's Trophy

RAPPER DRAGON continued his march towards Group 1 honours with a victory in the Group 2 Chairman's Trophy over 1,600m at Sha Tin on Sunday, a performance that had jockey Joao Moreira proclaiming the four-year-old Hong Kong's standout.

"Now I'm convinced that he's the best horse in town," the champion jockey said after guiding the Street Boss gelding to a fourth straight win.

"Obviously, that No. 1 spot was open and there to be taken, and he looked like he was going to be the one."

Trainer John Moore's latest stable star swept aside his peers in last month's BMW Hong Kong Derby (2,000m) to become the first horse to complete a sweep of Hong Kong's three-race Four-Year-Old Classic Series.

Back in trip on Sunday, the ascendant chestnut impressed against his elders with a smart prep for the Group 1 Champions Mile in four weeks' time.

"He went through the race beautifully," Moreira said. "He had lovely cover and I just pulled him out a little bit early because I knew there would be some early moves and I wanted to make sure I gave him a clear run. When I put him into daylight, he finished off so strongly - he was really letting down powerfully."

The 1.6 favourite settled handily behind the pace-setting Contentment, one of six Group 1 winners in the 10-runner field.

When that rival succumbed to pressure 350m out, it was Rapper Dragon that sailed into the clear. The victor wandered around under Moreira's drive but had the strong-closing Beauty Only's measure in clocking 1min 33.74sec for a half-length success.

The Tony Cruz-trained runner-up unleashed a race-fastest closing 400m sectional (21.96sec to Rapper Dragon's 22.03sec) under Zac Purton, but never looked like overhauling the winner, who benefited from the second having to shoulder a 5lb (2.27kg) Group 1 penalty.

Moore is certain that he has left something to work on ahead of the May 7 Champions Mile.

"There's further improvement, I think I can get him a little bit fitter," the trainer said. "I didn't have him 100 per cent today because I didn't really put him to the grind for this and that was intentional."

And the handler, who saddled Able Friend to win this race en route to Champions Mile glory in 2015, agrees with Moreira's sentiment that Rapper Dragon is the most likely heir to Able Friend's crown. - HKJC

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