Nothingilikemore too classy

Trainer John Size's equine star lives up to top billing in $1.7 million Hong Kong Classic Mile

Nothingilikemore lived up to his top billing with a confident victory in the HK$10 million (S$1.7 million) Hong Kong Classic Mile at Sha Tin on Sunday.

Champion jockey Joao Moreira steered the 1.6 favourite to a wide passage into the home straight and Hong Kong's latest star did the rest, quickening through the final 400m in an untouchable 22.90sec to clock a winning time of 1min 34.24sec.

Singapore Sling, owned by Singapore interests, chased to finish a length-and-a-quarter second under Chad Schofield.

With the first leg of Hong Kong's three-race Four-Year-Old Classic Series secured, the talented Husson gelding is set for the Hong Kong Classic Cup over 1,800m on Feb 18.

And trainer John Size sees the BMW Hong Kong Derby over 2,000m as a likely target, too.

"He's going to run well in the 1,800," said Size.

"The tempo's going to be a bit different but he seems to be able to adapt to that once he settles and follows horses.

"I don't think that will worry him and I'd envisage that he'd go to the Derby as well."

He’s a very relaxed type of horse and I don’t think another furlong (200m) is going to hammer him.Jockey Joao Moreira, on Nothingilikemore’s ability to handle the Hong Kong Classic Cup’s 1,800m trip

The handler's previous Hong Kong Classic Mile winner, Sun Jewellery, followed up in the Hong Kong Classic Cup in 2016 before running seventh in the BMW Hong Kong Derby.

Nothingilikemore went into Sunday's feature rated 10lb (4.54kg) and more ahead of his rivals, but the manner of victory - against the best of his peers - was impressive nonetheless.

"He keeps on surprising me every time that he goes out there. Each time that Nothingilikemore races, he's more relaxed," said Moreira, who won this race 12 months ago on Rapper Dragon and in 2014 atop Able Friend.

The bay - fresh and keen in the parade ring - was a model competitor once the starting gates opened.

A sharp start had Moreira positioned front-rank, but as Ruthven powered to the fore under Alexis Badel, the Brazilian allowed his horse to settle back in mid-rank, one spot off the running rail.

"We were hoping that we could settle a bit closer but, unfortunately, horses around me were making me run, trying to get in, and I had to let them go," said Moreira. "I didn't want to get inside of them and get pushed to the fence, so I had to give away that position.

"Once I got behind horses with cover, two off the fence, I was quite confident that I would have a full-on horse at the finish, and that was the case."

Size summed it up: "He seems to be capable to travel in a field quite kindly and accelerate, so that's all you really want in a racehorse."

When Moreira shifted out towards the home turn, Nothingilikemore quickened his rhythm.

"I was a bit concerned on the bend because he was kind of off the bridle but I know him very well, and I knew that once I pulled him on the outside and gave him a clear run, he'd dash home," said Moreira.

"Once I got him on the outside, he started to quicken and make a run himself, I didn't have to press the button.

"I turned for home pretty close to the leaders, which was the best spot to be anyway, I wanted to be on the outside.

"With 200m to go, I knew I had the race won and I was delighted to be aboard him."