Sprint glory for Moreira on Amber Sky and Sterling City

Peter Ward 30/03/2014
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Sky’s the limit: Jockey Joao Moreira (l) storms for the line on Amber Sky before winning the al Quoz Sprint race at Meydan last night

Hong Kong dominated the two Group 1 sprints on the card with jockey Joao Moreira riding both winners but for different trainers.

Firstly, twelve months after breaking the 1000m turf track record in the Al Quoz Sprint, the Mike De Kock-trained Shea Shea was a fast finishing third in this year’s renewal behind Amber Sky who made all the running under Moreira.

Trained by Ricky Yiu, Moreira’s mount arrived at Meydan on the back of an impressive 1000m win at Sha Tin and had been pleasing connections all week in his morning work.

The pair flew out of the gates, heading straight to the front and were clear at halfway.

Ahtoug went in chase with 300m to run but was burned off at the 100m pole, with Shea Shea runningon too late and just failing to snatch second.

Amber Sky knocked two-tenths of a second off Shea Shea’s track record in the process.

Brazilian-born Moreira, riding his fourth UAE winner at the fourth attempt, on his first visit since 2008, said: “This horse just has so much natural speed and loves fast, straight, turf tracks.

“The plan was always to get to the front and kick for home about halfway. Even though he travels so well he can still quicken again which is the mark of a very good sprinter.

“We could take him to Royal Ascot perhaps as the likes of Shea Shea are all being aimed there, or maybe Singapore in May and the big Hong Kong Sprint in December must be another target.

“It is great to get a winner here on such a truly international stage.”

The jockey wasted no time doubling his tally with another smooth victory, this time on the John Moore-trained Sterling City who denied compatriot Rich Tapestry in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen.

In a race run at a furious gallop, those blazing the trail dropped away with 300m to run, leaving Rich Tapestry in front, stalked by Moreira who had been denied a clear run early in the straight.

He was then content to take his time before pulling round Rich Tapestry and producing his mount to lead close home in the 1200m Tapeta feature.

Moreira, daubed in a Brazilian flag, said: “Wow, what a night – two winners for Hong Kong. I was pretty confident at the top of the straight but then had to wait for a gap. He then quickened and won well.”

Trainer Moore added: “That was a very good ride because he could have panicked when the door shut. Luckily he didn’t but he is a top jockey.

“It is great to get a winner on this night and it is a great result for ‘Team Moore’ – my son rides him out and my daughter has been performing the groom’s duties so it is extra special. We will go to Singapore next with him.”

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Glory for Fukunaga as he triumphs in Dubai Duty Free

Peter Ward 30/03/2014
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Way ahead: Fukunaga celebrates after winning the Dubai Duty Free.

The 1800m Dubai Duty Free, the second of the two Group 1 turf features, may have looked ultra competitive on paper but it turned out very much not to be the case with a stunning victory for the Japanese and Just A Way.

Trained by Naosuke Sugai and ridden by Yuichi Fukunaga, the winner was settled in rear well behind a strong early gallop set by compatriot, Tokei Halo.

Turning for home Fukunaga was clearly travelling very strongly and tracked Vercingetorix, seemingly going equally well under Christophe Soumillon.

Both horses went from being at the back of the 13-runner field to challenging the leaders in a few strides but Dank, who had been settled in rear with them, was denied a clear run on the inside as the other two challenged Tokei Halo who tired quickly.

With 400m to run, Soumillon and Vercingetorix hit the front, still travelling well within themselves but the lead was short lived with Fukunaga and Just A Way storming past them about 100m later.

They quickened clear in great style, passing the line with plenty in hand and breaking the track record set in last year’s renewal by Sajjhaa in the process.

Dank, arguably unlucky in running, ran on to take third under Ryan Moore. The jockey was opening his UAE account at the fourth attempt, while the trainer was saddling his very first runner locally.

Fukunaga said: “We knew he was a good horse and capable of a big run. He certainly has not let us down and I was always very happy on him. They went a good early pace which was a big help.

“I could see Vercingetorix was also going well so I was happy to take a lead from him but when I asked, my horse has really quickened and lengthened. It was a brilliant performance and we are obviously delighted.”

Trainer Sugai added: “I could not be more pleased. His work has been good and steady because we only ran him at the start of the month so that we did not have to ask too much of him here in the mornings.

“Luckily, the plan has worked perfectly. His win in last year’s Tenno Sho was from Gentildonna, a dual Japan Cup winner, so he had already proved his class at home but it is a dream come true to do it here.”

Of the runner-up, Soumillon said: “My horse may have lost his unbeaten record but he has run a great race in defeat and just found one too good on the day. I think we might go to Hong Kong with him but that is up to trainer Mike De Kock. It is hard to be disappointed after such an excellent effort from him.”

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Cat O’Mountain leaves Appleby purring with satisfaction

Peter Ward 30/03/2014
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Delighted: Charlie Appleby.

Charlie Appleby, saddling his first Dubai World Cup meeting runners was over the moon with Cat O’Mountain who stayed on strongly to finish third in the World Cup itself under stable jockey, Mickael Barzalona.

Appleby said: “We have to be delighted with that run and it really justifies the faith we had in his ability to run a big race in this company. We were sweating on an invitation with him but it finally arrived.

“We had an awful draw in 15 and that certainly compromised our chances but Mickael has done everything he could to get him in a competitive position.

“The first two skipped clear at the top of the straight and we did not get a run perhaps as early as wewould have liked but he then ran on very well.

“It was certainly a career best effort from the horse and, if we could not win, obviously it is a great result for Godolphin as a team.

“African Story has provided Saeed bin Suroor and his team with a great victory for them, Godolphin and, of course, Sheikh Mohammed. That is what we were all trying to do.”

Jockey Barzalona was also delighted with the performance and thought that with an improved draw it would have been an even more successful night at a packed Meydan.

He added “Cat O’Mountain has run an absolutely fabulous race, especially considering where we were drawn and the position we were in at halfway.

“He was nice and relaxed the whole way round and enjoyed himself out there. He has picked up really well in the straight before running on strongly to snatch third. With a better draw I am sure we would have finished closer.”

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