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Military drilled for Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup


Military Attack burst into the big time with victory in the 2013 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m), the first of four consecutive wins that swept him to the pinnacle of Hong Kong racing and clinched that season’s Horse of the Year crown. A second Gold Cup triumph followed in 2014, and now, two years on, the veteran galloper is aiming to turn back the clock in Sunday’s (28 February) edition of the HK$10 million Group 1 feature.

“He’s well, he’s fit and he’s ready,” said trainer Caspar Fownes. “Zac (Purton) was very happy with his bit of work on the grass last Saturday, his wind is good and he’s coming off a good run.”

That “good run” came at a mile, the bottom-end of Military Attack’s range, in last month’s G1 Stewards’ Cup. With Silvestre de Sousa in the plate that day, the eight-year-old quickened from back in the field to finish within a length and a half of the victorious Giant Treasure. 

“That last run was unreal,” said Fownes. “He had a cloud over him going into that race, so to see what he did - running a last sectional of 22.09 (seconds) - that was a big effort!”

Fownes took charge of Military Attack ahead of the 2014/15 season, and, while the bay has not added to his tally of two international G1 wins achieved under the watch of previous handler John Moore, he has nonetheless maintained his status as one of Hong Kong’s finest.

Runner-up efforts in last season’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) and G1 Singapore International Airlines Cup (2000m) attest to that, as does a typically determined course and distance win three starts back in the G2 LONGINES Jockey Club Cup. But Military Attack is not exactly straightforward - the normal niggles of an ageing athlete and, at times, the horse’s own clumsiness, complicate the process of preparing the Irish-bred for the big days.

“Hopefully he gets to the races in one piece and then he’ll be competitive,” said Fownes. “He’s got his problems but just when you think he’s done, he comes back - he’s incredible. He’s floored and then he picks himself up and shows you what he can do.”

Military Attack will take on 10 rivals in Sunday’s top-class contest. The race features last year’s winner, Designs On Rome, as well as last season’s G1 AP QEII Cup (2000m) victor Blazing Speed, recent Stewards’ Cup hero Giant Treasure, and fellow G1 scorers Dan Excel, Dominant and Helene Super Star. The classy stayer Helene Happy Star is also engaged, as is the emerging talent Secret Weapon, and the smart gallopers Flame Hero and Mr Gnocchi.

Should the two-time winner add a third Gold Cup success (he was a below-par fourth last season), he would match the feat of Hong Kong legend River Verdon. And after Sunday, with the now defunct Singapore international festival no longer an option, Military Attack could be getting a new stamp on his passport.

“We have an invite to Sydney so there’s a chance we might go down there,” said Fownes. “We’ll just see how he is after this race.”


Military Attack (in green) prevailed to win the G2 LONGINES Jockey Club Cup three starts back in November.
Photo 1:
Military Attack (in green) prevailed to win the G2 LONGINES Jockey Club Cup three starts back in November.


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