It's Rapper Dragon, who else?
Trainer John Moore's potential equine star whips his rivals as expected in the Hong Kong Classic Cup
RAPPER DRAGON cemented his BMW Hong Kong Derby claims and raised the prospect of a first-ever Four-Year-Old Classic Series clean sweep with an authoritative victory in the Hong Kong Classic Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Trainer John Moore's charge added to last month's impressive Hong Kong Classic Mile success with a smooth length-and-a-half win under champion jockey Joao Moreira.
The Australian-bred held the late and wide charge of Pakistan Star to join Floral Pegasus (2007) and Sun Jewellery (2016) as the only horses to have claimed the series' first two legs.
"The way he won today was pretty much the same as the first leg," Moreira said after the Street Boss gelding had clocked 1min 46.98sec for the 1,800m feature, the fastest over the course and distance this season and a race record, too.
The manner in which Rapper Dragon won had jockey and trainer brimming with confidence post-race, both believing that the chestnut can clean up with a historic BMW Hong Kong Derby win over 2,000m on March 19.
"He's pretty smart, he relaxed nicely in the race and that indicates that he's going to handle the Derby distance, so I think I've got the best horse," Moreira said.
"I think he's pretty close to the best horses I've ridden. Winning on him today again was pretty special."
The champion jockey settled Rapper Dragon mid-division, one spot from the rail, as Winner's Way charged to an early lead and stretched the 13-runner field with quick fractions in front.
As the challengers queued up on the turn for home, Moreira eased his mount six deep for clear progress and requested a race-winning effort.
I think he's pretty close to the best horses I've ridden. Winning on him today again was pretty special.Jockey Joao Moreira, on Rapper Dragon
Rapper Dragon responded with a decisive acceleration that carried him to the lead 200m out, and, with the tiring front rank having dropped away, it was left to Pakistan Star to mount an eye-catching albeit vain pursuit.
FULL OF CONFIDENCE
"He's a very good horse, I'd said that before, and we had no doubts about him getting the extra 200m today, he drew the gun gate (4)," Moore said.
"There was quite a lot of speed early, which was a big surprise, but he was the top-rated horse (114).
We're going into the Derby full of confidence and now we just hope the owner can pull a good draw in the Derby and I think he'd be repeating. He's definitely the horse to beat.Trainer John Moore, on Rapper Dragon
"We're going into the Derby full of confidence and now we just hope the owner can pull a good draw in the Derby and I think he'd be repeating.
"He's definitely the horse to beat. He's going to be joining the elite brigade in Hong Kong."
The 1.7 jolly became the first favourite to win the Classic Cup since Floral Pegasus. The latter came closest to completing the treble in 2007, when the Tony Cruz-trained galloper was edged out by a nose.
Cruz will be hoping that Pakistan Star can spoil Rapper Dragon's Derby party this time around. The Shamardal gelding again showed one of those bursts of brilliance that has captured the attention of racing fans.
Dropped in at the tail, the Hong Kong International Sale graduate powered home down centre-track to take second, his final 400m split being 22.08sec. Rapper Dragon posted the next swiftest closing split at 22.42sec.
"He's run a good race," jockey Silvestre de Sousa said.
"Tony asked me to sit out the back and switch him off and he's come with a big late run, so he's finished well, that's just the way he likes to run, obviously. He's going well."
The Danny Shum-trained Seasons Bloom, runner-up to Rapper Dragon in the Classic Mile last time, ran another admirable race to claim third, a further length-and-a-half back.
Nash Rawiller's mount endured a rough passage back in the field, penned on the fence and buffeted by Dinozzo in the early to middle stages.
"He was bumped by another horse and lost his right-fore shoe, so he ran a good race," Shum said.
"Hopefully, he can improve again in the next month and then we'll aim for the Derby." - HKJC