Hong Kong Champion Military Attack could finish no better than third in the Group 2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday but trainer John Moore remains confident that his star galloper is the horse to beat in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on December 8.
Military Attack finished his preparation at the start of this year with four straight wins in the Group 1 Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m), the Group 3 Premier Plate (1800m), the Group 1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2000m) and the Group 1 Singapore Airlines International Cup (2000m) but has not entered the winners stall since returning to the races in October.
The Oratorio gelding resumed with a fast-finishing sixth in the Sha Tin Trophy (1600m) on October 27 and went into the Jockey Club Cup as a clear favourite but was defeated by Endowing and Akeed Mofeed in the Group 2 event.
Military Attack was ridden on the pace by Australian-born jockey Zac Purton, who was following the instructions of Moore, and the leading Hong Kong trainer admitted that he got his race tactics wrong with the three-time Group 1 winner.
“I probably gave the wrong instructions in hindsight, especially considering our target is December 8,” Moore told The South China Morning Post.
“We should have been out the back with Akeed Mofeed and given him the chance to finish off.
“We should have ridden him quietly.
“He is a European horse, and any European horse asked to do that will not finish off.”
Moore was clearly disappointed that Military Attack was unable to record his sixth win at Group level but said there was plenty to like about his run and believes the highly-rated gelding will be able to bounce back and win his first Hong Kong Cup next month.
“In the end, the gate made the difference to whether Military Attack could win or not,” Moore said.
“His run was full of merit though and he will be the one to beat in the Hong Kong Cup.”
Military Attack is considered one of the best horses in the world over 2000 metres and in the latest World Thoroughbred Rankings, which were topped by equine superstar Black Caviar and French filly Treve, the five-year-old was just outside the top ten locked on 124 rating points with Al Kazeem, Ambitious Dragon, Farhh, Gold Ship, Intello, Olympic Glory and St Nicholas Abbey.