CHUA DOESN'T MIND THAT 'CLASS 5' TAG
It may have been a race-to-race double in his "usual province" of lower racing grade, but the nice haul saw trainer Sam Chua leapfrog over no fewer than seven trainers to hurl himself into the Top 10 of the Singapore trainer's premiership on Sunday.
The successive victories of HEAR ME, ridden by John Sundradas in the $35,000 Class 5 race over 1,600m, and SOON YI - the mount of Oscar Chavez - in the $55,000 Class 4 Division 1 race over 1,200m brought Chua's score to eight wins.
That's a score shared by trainers Stephen Gray and Michael Clements, but, with Chua having a better countback for seconds, he takes eighth spot ahead of them.
The trio of trainers are just five wins off the leader Alwin Tan.
Save for Cavallo, all of Chua's winners have come from either Class 4 or 5 company, or maiden races, but the Singapoeran conditioner does not mind the "Class 5 trainer" tag - not one bit.
"If I can pick up some stakes money for the owners, I don't really care if they are Class 5 races. It's the win that counts," said Chua.
"I don't have superstars in my stable, but I have a good team of owners behind me. I'm happy to win the races that suit these horses."
With only moderate support behind Hear Me - who paid $48 on the win tote - and Soon Yi, who rewarded his connections with a $55 payout, Chua said he had not been holding his breath for both to salute on Sunday.
"But, I was still keeping his fingers crossed for a good performance - with a win from either being a bonus.
"The wins were not really expected. I was just hoping for a good run," said Chua.
"Soon Yi has a bad habit of beginning slowly, but I think he's mended his ways since Oscar started riding him. He was against some good horses, but he did a good job to win."
After tracking up the early leaders in third spot, the US-bred Soon Yi attacked the line with plenty of resolve before taking the measure of better-fancied horses like Mangatangi - Danny Beasley's mount - and Luwak Coffee, who for a while gave the impression he could give visiting Adelaide boom apprentice Jamie Kah her first Kranji win.
Soon Yi may have taken the whole length of the Kranji home straight to find that extra kick, but he eventually wore his opponents down to score by half-a-length from Mangatangi with Luwak Coffee third another head away.
The winning time was 1min 10.95sec for the 1,200m on the Long Course.
Moreira guides Military Attack to HK Gold Cup win
Military Attack reasserted his authority over his domestic rivals on Sunday, with an imperious victory in the domestic Group 1 Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup over 2,000m that puts Hong Kong's reigning Horse of the Year firmly on course for a date in Dubai at the end of next month.
"It was great to watch and he's back to where he was last season," said trainer John Moore, after the Singapore Airlines International Cup winner captured a second consecutive win in the race.
Moore's charge had been shunted to the shadows in four defeats this term, as Akeed Mofeed in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Cup (2,000m) and, most recently, Blazing Speed in the domestic Stewards' Cup (1,600m) stole the champion's thunder.
But Military Attack had shown sparks of promise in those defeats and stepped on to the sun-soaked Sha Tin turf looking primed to defend his title in the race that constitutes the second leg of the Hong Kong Triple Crown series.
"As I said going into the race, if he didn't get stuck in the box seat, he'd be winning the race, because, leading into it, he'd done everything right, his blood was just right on song," said Moore.
The winner's stablemate Dan Excel jumped to the lead under Neil Callan, and the new partnership of Joao Moreira and Military Attack was content to stalk on the rail.
Dan Excel led the field of seven into the final turn, Moreira tested the race favourite and found his rival wanting.
Military Attack unleashed a brilliant turn-of-foot to sweep clear with 200m to race.
"Good horses always make jockeys' lives easier," said Moreira of last season's G1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2,000m) winner.
"When we turned for home, I was able to obtain a clear run on the outside of the leaders and just kick away from them."
Moore and owner Steven Lo now have their sights set firmly on Dubai, although the trainer hopes that this win may have convinced officials there to reassess the focus of their invitation.
"I entered him for both the Dubai Duty Free (1,800m, turf) and the Dubai World Cup (2,000m, Tapeta). I wanted to get him into the World Cup, but I have to accept that his form wasn't on the board and they put him back to the Duty Free.
"But maybe I'll get a telephone call and they'll say, 'would you like to run in the World Cup?' and the answer will be that I'd love to run in the World Cup!" - HKJC.