Able Friend suffered a shock defeat in the Group 2 Jockey Club Mile (1600m) a fortnight ago, but trainer John Moore is confident that his star galloper can return to winning form in the 2015 Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Able Friend returned to Hong Kong racing with an outstanding win from the tail of the field in the Group 2 The Premier Bowl (1200m) at Sha Tin on October 25 and he started the Jockey Club Mile as a dominant favourite, but he was unable to show his usual acceleration in the final stages of the race.
Moore put down the slightly flat performance of Able Friend to second-up syndrome and he told Sky Racing HQ that the Shamardal gelding has thrived ahead of the defence of his Hong Kong Mile title this weekend.
“Everything is very cherry ripe with him,” Moore said.
“Moreira galloped him yesterday and he was confident that the horse has returned to his old self.
“Last run you would have to put it down to second run syndrome – he just didn’t finish off as strong even though he did run 21.87 for the last 400.
“He has done everything right and we have just freshened him up since his last run.
“He has thrived since.
“We are expecting the same sort of thing that he did last season, but the competition is a lot stronger this year.”
Able Friend is currently available at 2015 Hong Kong Mile odds of $2 with Ladbrokes and Japanese star Maurice is the only other horse that is available at single figure odds.
Maurice has recorded five wins on the trot included impressive victories in the Group 1 The Yasuda Kinen (1600m) at Tokyo on June 7 and the Group 1 The Mile Championship (1600m) at Kyoto on November 22 and Moore admits that the Screen Hero entire looks like the main danger to Able Friend.
“He won his last five and he won the Kinen,” Moore said.
“Tommy Berry and Hugh Bowman both said that he is very talented – they said that he got trapped deep over raced and still hit the line strong.
“No doubt he will stretch Able Friend.”
Able Friend has the chance to join Monopolize (1995 and 1996) and Good Ba Ba (2007, 2008 and 2009) as the only back-to-back winners of the Hong Kong Mile.