Racing

Rapper Dragon primed for HK Classic Mile

RAPPER DRAGON is primed for a major role in tomorrow's Sha Tin feature, the Hong Kong Classic Mile.

That was the view of the gelding's trainer, John Moore, and jockey, Joao Moreira, after a gallop yesterday morning.

"He was really good this morning, he's in great shape," Moore declared after Hong Kong's top-rated (114) four-year-old had worked home through the final 800m of an all-weather track hit-out in 55.1sec (28.6sec and 26.5sec sectionals).

"Joao came back and said he thought the horse worked very well. He went pretty quick early, he did his best work down the back and then slowed in the straight," the trainer added.

Rapper Dragon was Group 1-placed in Australia before an impressive first Hong Kong campaign last term, but has had only one start so far this season.

A planned Group 1 assault at last month's LONGINES Hong Kong International Races was shelved when the chestnut met with a setback. Instead, a solid fifth under topweight in a 1,400m Class 1 handicap on the International Day undercard served to put him back on track for a tilt at this year's Four-Year-Old Classic Series.

"He kicked the wall and had a bruised foot - that took a little time to get him right again and upset the plan to run in the Group 1 last month," said Moore.

"He's right on target for the Derby now though, he's on the path and everything's gone to plan since."

And the handler has no lingering doubts about his rising star's fitness for tomorrow's first leg of the Classic Series, despite heading in off a one-race preparation.

"The way he went this morning, he's showing me that he's peaking right now," Moore said.

"There's no concern about his fitness or his well-being going into the Classic Mile - he's very easy to get fit, he's very clean-winded."

Moreira echoed that view.

"Rapper Dragon is going extremely well in his trackwork and, honestly, I think he's one of the fittest horses at this stage," said the champion jockey.

Moore will saddle seven of the 14 runners in the first four-year-old major. - HKJC