Hong Kong’s multiple Group 1 winner Able Friend is facing a tough task to win a second Group 1 HK$23m Longines Hong Kong Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday after drawing the outside barrier in the fourteen horse field.
Able Friend was able to win the 2014 Hong Kong Mile from the outside gate in a ten horse field and after Joao Moreira settled him second last in the run, he was able to storm home to record a four and a quarter lengths victory over Gold Fun.
But top Hong Kong trainer John Moore is not that confident this year and admits that Able Friend is facing an uphill battle to collect his second Hong Kong Mile Trophy but does has the ‘Magic Man’ Joao Moreira in the saddle again to help his chances.
“I was hoping for a middle gate and that he could get some nice cover,” Moore said immediately after the draw.
“From gate fourteen, he’s going to come back to the rear of the field and his task is going to be set – the task of getting home in a very slick sectional time. His fitness is suspect, so I’m worried.”
Able Friend will be lining up for his third Hong Kong Mile after running third behind Maurice and Giant Treasure twelve months ago.
The Shamardal seven year old begin his career in Australia and after breaking his Maiden status in a 1350m Wyong Class 1 in 2012, has gone on the become one of Hong Kong’s most celebrated gallopers with twelve wins at Sha Tin which include five at Group 1 level.
Moore will also saddle up Helene Paragon and Joyful Trinity in the Feature Mile race on Longines Hong Kong International Race Day.
Hugh Bowman takes the ride on Helene Paragon who has drawn nicely at barrier five while Joyful Trinity came up with the awkward barrier at eleven with Gerald Mosse taking the mount.
“Helene Paragon, he’s drawn the gun gate and he should have won last time,” Moore said.
“From that draw Hugh (Bowman) will give him a great ride and given clear running in the straight he’s one of the horses to beat.”
In early betting for the Hong Kong Mile at Ladbrokes.com.au Able Friend has been listed as the $5.50 favourite just ahead of his stablemate Helene Paragon at $6.50 and Satono Aladdin at $7 while Logotype, Neorealism and Sun Jewellery sharing the next line of betting at $8.