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Giovanni Canaletto gives Moreira confidence for Sunday��s BMW Hong Kong Derby


Joao Moreira goes into Sunday’s (20 March) HKG1 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) with full confidence that Giovanni Canaletto is ready to prove his mettle in what appears to be a closely-matched renewal of the HK$18 million showcase.  

There’s no place like home, the saying goes, and there was something incongruous about the Irish import when he first stepped into the Sha Tin training crucible last November, but while the former Ballydoyle galloper still hasn't quite got to grips with barrier trials around the track’s all-weather circuit, the Galileo colt’s latest race-day effort gave a clear signal that Hong Kong is fast becoming his Tipperary.

“His last run indicates that he is coming ready at the right time,” said Moreira. “I’m very excited by that and really looking forward to the Derby.”

Sunday will be Giovanni Canaletto’s third attempt at winning a Derby. The chestnut lined up in the English and Irish versions last summer for his previous trainer Aidan O’Brien, finishing fourth behind the subsequent European champion Golden Horn at Epsom and then third to Jack Hobbs at the Curragh.

“His overseas form indicates that he’s a very nice, talented horse; now he’s a bit more mature than he was when he was overseas,” said Moreira. “It took him a little bit of time to get used to the environment here, especially the pace of the race, which is much faster than what he was used to.

“He has never trialled well here, and his last trial (11 March), even if it wasn’t outstanding, it was probably his best trial so far, so I’m going to the race happy with the horse. I’m full of confidence and hopefully everything goes okay.”

Giovanni Canaletto’s latest start was his second in Hong Kong. Deemed a bit of a plodder after looking all at sea and lacking toe in four barrier trials at Happy Valley and on Sha Tin’s all-weather, Tony Cruz’s charge was sent off at 98/1 for his debut in January’s HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Mile. The colt, a full-brother to the 2013 English Derby winner Ruler Of The World and a half to European champion older horse Duke Of Marmalade, finished a respectable five lengths sixth and so started at 10/1 for the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) one month later. 

“I was pleased with that last run in the Classic Cup, that’s why I stuck with him,” said Moreira, who steered his Derby mount from deep to a fast-finishing fifth, one length behind the victorious Sun Jewellery. Giovanni Canaletto clocked the fastest final 800m (46.46s) of any horse in the race, and that included the quickest final 400m split, too (23.43s).

“Hopefully he does what he did that day, and if he does, I think he’s a main chance,” said the Brazilian, who acknowledged that he is one of several with a big chance.

“There are heaps of horses with winning chances and I respect a lot the John Size horse, Sun Jewellery - Werther, too, and Helene Paragon who won very well the other day. They’re probably the main threats but I’m going into the race with confidence. It’s a race I dream to win one day and hopefully this is the time.”

The Size-trained Sun Jewellery is aiming to make history on Sunday as the first horse to win all three four-year-old majors, after becoming only the second horse to win the first two, the Hong Kong Classic Mile and Hong Kong Classic Cup. Floral Pegasus won the Classic Mile and Classic Cup in 2007 only to finish second in the Derby, a nose behind the 10/1 shot Vital King.

Classic Cup close-up finishers Werther (2nd), Blizzard (dh 3rd ) and Eastern Express (dh 3rd) are also set for the Derby, as are recent Class 2 winner Helene Paragon, last season’s G1 St James’s Palace Stakes third Consort, Friends Of Ka Ying, King Genki, Victory Magic, Hero Look, Green Dispatch, White Magic and Lucky Girl.


Giovanni Canaletto finishes a creditable fifth in the HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Cup.
Photo 1:
Giovanni Canaletto finishes a creditable fifth in the HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Cup.


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