Racing

Rapper Dragon fired up for the Derby

Trainer John Moore's star attempts unprecedented clean sweep of the HK 4YO Classic Series

RAPPER DRAGON heads towards the BMW Hong Kong Derby with a lofty rating and a reputation to protect, and trainer John Moore remains confident that his four-year-old star will live up to expectations in the HK$18 million (S$3.27 million) event over 2,000m on March 19.

That conviction was not troubled yesterday morning, when the talented Street Boss gelding was engaged in barrier trial action.

Never one to set the turf alight during such assignments, the chestnut travelled well enough under jockey Joao Moreira to finish an easy two-and-a-quarter-length seventh of 10 in batch one.

His time for the 1,000m stretch-out was 59.13sec.

"Rapper Dragon has never been a flashy trialler and again he just did what he had to do," said Moore of his 114-rated performer.

"That was what we wanted and what we expected. There's still more to come, he'll work at the weekend and he'll have a gallop on the turf next Thursday."

Rapper Dragon will attempt to make history as the first horse to win all three races in Hong Kong's Four-Year-Old Classic Series.

Stablemate and rival BEAUTY GENERATION, third and then nowhere behind Rapper Dragon in the series' first two legs, the Hong Kong Classic Mile over 1,600m and Hong Kong Classic Cup over 1,800m, yesterday morning gave connections hope that he can be a contender.

The Road To Rock gelding traversed the turf with verve as he finished a half-length fourth in the same batch, in a time of 58.87sec.

"It's good to see him go out and trial like that today, obviously the way he ran last time was concerning," said jockey Zac Purton.

"But he was a little bit better today the way he picked up in the last 100 metres and ran through the line nicely. He seemed to pull-up well, so the dream is still there."

Moore anticipates further improvement as he tunes the bay for the upcoming 2,000m test and indicated that, this time, his charge will not press forward and race as close to the pace as he did in the Classic Cup.

"Beauty Generation needed that, he had a good blow," said the trainer.

"The way the connections wanted the horse ridden last time was the undoing of him. We'll look carefully at race tactics for the Derby, but I'd just forget that last run. His trial today was very good and I'm happy."

With the Classic Mile and Classic Cup already in the bag, Rapper Dragon has shown that he has the measure of most of his likely Derby opponents. - HKJC