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Helene Happy Star heads stable quartet in Saturday��s HKG3 Centenary Vase


Sha Tin Racecourse stages a cracking Saturday card this weekend (6 February) and trainer John Moore has entered four of his stable’s gallopers for the feature event, the HKG3 Centenary Vase (Handicap).

The 1800m contest often attracts a high-class field. The past two editions have fallen to the previous December’s G1 Hong Kong Cup heroes, Designs On Rome (2015) and Akeed Mofeed (2014), while fellow G1 stars Bullish Luck (2008) and Vengeance Of Rain (2005) have also plundered the race this century.

Moore has bagged the Centenary Vase seven times in his career - more than any other trainer - stretching from Stingray in 1989 to Designs On Rome’s brilliant late-storming win last season under a burden of 131lb. Helene Happy Star, Dominant, Harbour Master and Kabayan comprise the trainer’s raiding party this time.

Designs On Rome used this race as a step-up to a victory in the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) and that 28 February contest is again the prime focus for Moore’s Centenary Vase contenders.

“Helene Happy Star’s going really well and I expect to run a good race on Saturday,” said Moore of last season’s HKG3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup (Handicap - 2400m) winner, fifth last time in the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m).

“I’m pleased with him going into Saturday and also with his overall lead-up to the Gold Cup. He trialled nicely the other day and (Joao) Moreira was very pleased. This should be his season to really prove himself as one of the better middle-distance horses in Hong Kong. He’s settled in to the environment here now and we expect him to be very competitive in the middle distance races.”

Moore has no plans to travel the five-year-old Zamindar gelding this term, the long term aim being the G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) at Sha Tin in late spring, a race in which he was a neck third behind Helene Super Star and Dominant last term.

“We’ll stay here with him,” confirmed Moore. “The plan would be the Champions & Chater Cup in May. Designs On Rome would be the pick of my horses and Helene Happy Star would now be the stable second pick.”

Dominant, the 2013 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase winner, was undone by a stop-start pace in the latest renewal of that mile and a half showcase, finishing sixth behind the victorious Ryan Moore-ridden Highland Reel. Moore is slated to partner Dominant this time around.

“Everything has gone right with Dominant since December and Ryan Moore’s on top. The Hong Kong Vase was slowly run and that didn’t suit him. We’re back to facing local horses again here and he’s still a talented horse with plenty left to give,” said the trainer, who sent his charge to Australia for a couple of starts last year and is considering doing the same again.

“He was entered for the Dubai World Cup but we won't be going there, he always had more chance of going to Sydney for the BMW, so I’ll have further talks with the syndicate about whether we send him back to Australia for the carnival in Sydney and get him over a bit more ground,” said Moore.

“Kabayan and Harbour Master could be place-getters,” he continued. “Harbour Master has been a disappointment this season after a good time of it last season. This time around he hasn’t come up for it at all. I’ve looked into everything, in terms of soundness and general wellbeing, and we’re finding nothing. On his form last season, this season should have been one of his best but he’s just not hitting the line. I’m just hoping for a turnaround in form.”

The Centenary Vase has 14 engaged plus two reserves. Hong Kong’s standout dirt performer, the Caspar Fownes-trained Gun Pit, is the highest-rated horse in the field and would head the weights on 133lb should he line up for his first turf start since a 10th-place finish in the HKG1 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) last March.

G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup winner Helene Super Star is one of two talented Tony Cruz-trained entrants, the other being Romantic Touch, while Packing Llaregyb, Flame Hero, Khaya, Top Act, Secret Weapon, Celestial Smile and Travel Brother complete the 14.  Bubble Chic and Dubai World Cup entrant Mr Gnocchi are the reserve runners.



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