Trainer John Moore has revealed that Designs On Rome will not be at his peak when he takes on Criterion in the 2015 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Designs On Rome beat Military Attack and Criterion to win the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on December 14 and he went on to win the Group 3 The Centenary Vase (1800m) on February 7 and the Group 1 Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) on March 1 before he was far from disgraced when fourth behind Dolniya, Flintshire and One And Only in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic (2410m) at Meydan on March 28.
Moore told The Hong Kong Jockey Club that Designs On Rome had taken a while to recover from his testing trip to Meydan and would not be at his best in the 2015 Queen Elizabeth II Cup, but he said he was happy with the way the five-year-old was improving heading into the Group 1 event this weekend.
“He is improving after his trip to Dubai,” Moore said.
“Any horse that goes away is going to come back with what I call a chemical imbalance and he is going to be jaded.
“For that reason, I don’t think anybody can expect that Designs On Rome is going to be out there in peak condition on Sunday, but that was something we were always taking into consideration with this race in Dubai.
“Every day I’m looking at this horse and he is improving.
“He’s putting on bodyweight, his coat’s got a greet sheen to it and He is still going to go out there and be a force to be reckoned with – even though he might not be 100% – because I know every day he is improving in himself.
“When Joao (Moreira) got off him on Saturday, he got off and said ‘this horse is not as flat as I would have expected’.
“He did everything right in Dubai; he ate up, he worked well and now he’s back here he’s feeling that little bit better each day.”
Designs On Rome beat Military Attack to win the 2014 edition of the Queen Elizabeth II Cup and has the chance to join Eishin Preston (2002 and 2003) as the only horse to win the race in back-to-back years.
Designs On Rome is currently available at 2015 Queen Elizabeth II Cup odds of $2.50 with Ladbrokes and is a narrow favourite from Criterion ($3.10), Military Attack ($6) and Smoking Sun ($9).