Helene Paragon scores emotional win
Passing of part-owner adds poignancy in Group 1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup
Emotions were raw at Sha Tin on Sunday after HELENE PARAGON battled past stablemate and crowd favourite Able Friend to win the Group 1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup over 1,400m.
The passing on Thursday of part-owner Wilson Woo meant that there was poignancy to the image of Tommy Berry punching towards the sky, clad in the Woo family's orange and pink silks.
"It's a very emotional win," trainer John Moore said.
"And thank you to the family for allowing the horse to run today. He's the bulldog of the stable, he doesn't know how to get beaten and he did it today."
Moore was noticeably subdued in victory, the joy of Helene Paragon's win tempered by the Woo family's loss.
And then there was the disappointment of Able Friend's eclipse. The trainer had been bullish heading into Sunday's contest, confident that Hong Kong's all-time highest-rated horse was ready to show that he was still the best in town.
Jockey Joao Moreira appeared deflated after the 2.1 favourite had found one better.
The champion jockey walked to the weigh-in with head bowed but later revealed that he was proud of Able Friend.
"He gave the best that he could," Moreira said.
"Tommy rode his horse very well and sometimes you have to accept that you're not winning. I'm proud of the horse anyway.
"One thing I can highlight is how hard he was trying. He was letting down - I hit him, because I was in a fight, and I could feel that he was giving everything that he had, so I can't be upset with the outcome."
Asked if 5-1 shot Helene Paragon's triumph represented a passing of the baton, Moore replied: "No. I think I can get Able Friend a little bit fitter than what he was today, so I wouldn't discount him because of soundness or age; he'll be back and I think he'll be even better at the mile."
Moore, nonetheless, knows that he has another top-class galloper on his hands and was duly pleased to see his stable representatives fill the first three places in the eight-runner contest.
Three-quarters of a length separated Helene Paragon from Able Friend and the margin was a short head back to the ever-consistent Joyful Trinity.
"It is satisfying, it was good that all of them dug deep in the end, and 'The Bulldog', as Tommy describes him, never gives up. It was a nice fight to the line," Moore said.
Helene Paragon's career continues to burgeon. The Polan entire scored a deserving first Group 1 win in last month's Stewards' Cup over 1,600m and today the bay showed class and mettle to hold Able Friend through a long run to the wire. Berry's execution was impeccable.
After relaxing his mount at the tail, the Australian ace took the race to his rivals on the home turn, ranging up outside Able Friend with 600m to race, five-wide and full of running turning in.
The big two engaged upon straightening, the duel was hard-fought, margins were tight, but Helene Paragon always seemed to have his rival's measure.
Able Friend faltered close home and Helene Paragon seized the advantage, stopping the clock at 1min 21.31sec.
"I knew that Able Friend wasn't as fit as my bloke," said Berry.
"My bloke's had a few more miles under his belt this preparation and I used that to my advantage out there.
"Still, full credit to Able Friend, he fought it out to the wire and it was just that last 50 metres where fitness probably told and I was able to get the heads up on him." - HKJC
It’s a very emotional win, and thank you to the family for allowing the horse to run today.Trainer John Moore