With regular rider Luis Corrales in the saddle, Sport Genius after a tardy beginning soon mustered speed to sit at the girth of Diamond Moonlight (Peter Ho. It was obvious before the turn that it was just a two horse affair with the two runners singling out for a thrilling battle over the final two hundred metres. Sport Genius the much smaller of the two horses dug deep to dive late for a head victory on the line.
It was a much relived Nick Moore after the race and the rookie trainer announced that he will be aiming the son of Ocean Park (NZ) towards the Four Year Old Classics, such as the Derby Trial and the Group 1 Macau Guineas.
"He really got to the line well it was a super effort. It was the first time with the blinkers and he didn't rev up he was nice and relaxed in the run and found plenty. If you look at the race watch how he picked up when he switched to his left lead; that's his weapon. He really got into his work after that."
"Before the race of course we knew the $1.6 favorite Diamond Moonlight was going to be very hard to toss. He bolted in on the rain affected sand last start and his times for the distance were far superior to my horse. But my little man is real tough little fighter and he is looking to go further."
Whilst it might seem a little ambitious at the present, Moore is optimistic that Sport Genius is the type of horse that could give him his second Macau Guineas.
"It's a good way off yet but I do think he has all the qualities it takes for a race like the Guineas. He is not a great beginner but he has good speed to put himself into the race and he knows where the post is."
With team of 13 horses in his yard at present Moore is anxiously awaiting for the Covid -19 travel restrictions to be eased.
"I've got 13 at the moment and have two in Australia waiting to come and one in the UK, but of course we just have to be patient. Hopefully I can get the team up to 20 by the end of the season, which would be good in these difficult times we are going through."
Moore achieved the rare feat of winning a Group 1 race in his debut season as trainer with Hostwin Saturn taking out the Macau Guineas back June. With his small team Moore only had a total of 68 runners for the whole of last season for 13 winners and 18 placings. His win strike rate of 19% and place percentage of 46% was the best strike rate of any trainer. Sport Genius was his only runner on Saturday.
Former dual Group winner Kelowna Star bounced back to his best with a brilliant win in Saturday's Class 1 & 2 over 1510 metres under Frenchman J B Hamel, to open last season' Champion trainer Tony Fung's account for the new season.
In a race run at a good tempo Kelowna Star was a good ten lengths back in second last place for most of the run. The son of Sufficient (NZ) was under a hard ride coming to the turn and was just starting to tack onto the field; once in the straight Hamel bought the nine year old to the extreme outside and he literally sprouted wings with a dazzling turn of foot to run right over the top of his rivals. At the line it was Kelowna Star by one and three quarters from Fasuba (Luis Corrales), with Tuhao Choice (Roger Yu) in third.
In his four year old days under James Moore Kelowna Star was just that; a real star in taking out the Group 3 4YO Prelude and the Group 1 Macau Guineas, then later in the year winning the first of his back to Group 2 Autumn Trophy's.
Age takes its toll on us all and Kelowna Star was no exception. The geldings form tapered off with wins far and few between until June this year, when he downed a decent Class 1 & 2 field over 1500 metres on the turf before a couple of well below par efforts again. Saturday however it was the old Kelowna Star that stepped up to the mark again and produced his same old brilliant finish.
Danny Wong's Number Zero made it four wins from his last six runs with a sterling effort to win Saturday's Class 3 over 1510 metres on a rain soaked sand surface, after the Taipa racetrack was inundated with very heavy rain throughout the afternoon.
Ridden by the underrated C F (Charlie) Chan, Number Zero was caught in a difficult spot wide from gate 12 as the field went into the back; to add to his troubles Number Zero picked up the bit and began to race fiercely. Chan took advantage of the straight stretch in the back to loop the field, and found himself on the outside of the leader Still So Cute as they swung the circle from the six hundred to the home turn. The five year old son of Showcasing (GB) showed great courage then to stave off a late run by Pearl Lucky (Shogo Nakano) to win by three quarters of a length, with Beautiful Eighteen (Luis Corrales) in third.
Number Zero has been a good buy for his owners Cheng Yan Tung, Wang Chang Gui and Lam Kwun Sang Ovo, and is another of the Showcasing (GB) breed that have shown a liking for the Macau sand surface; although Saturday he really showed his versatility with wins now on the turf on both good and heavy tracks as well as the all weather.
With only seven runs under his belt the gelding has posted four wins and one second spot and has already picked up over $600,000 HKD for connections.