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Helene Paragon ignites G1 dreams as Champions are crowned at Sha Tin finale


John Moore is taking early aim at December’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile with Helene Paragon after the trainer’s latest emerging star sluiced to an impressive victory in the Sha Tin Mile Trophy (Handicap) at this afternoon’s (10 July) Hong Kong season finale at Sha Tin racecourse.

Moore may have relinquished his hold on the Champion Trainer title – John Size picked up that trophy, his eighth premiership in all, after the last race – but the Australian handler ended another successful Hong Kong racing season on a high thanks to the exciting Spanish import.

“He’s a smart one!” declared Moore after watching the top-weight (133lb) clock 1m 33.33s to better the 1600m Class 1 record set by Mr Vitality back in 1995. The win was Helene Paragon’s fourth from only eight Hong Kong starts.

“He’s looking more and more like a Group 1 horse,” continued Moore. “Joao (Moreira) got off him and said he’s very good. It’s a nice way to finish the season and now we’ll look forward to him running against Able Friend and Maurice in the Hong Kong Mile in December.”

Moreira settled the winner towards the rear of the eight runners, penned on the fence, as stablemate Dashing Fellow (122lb), under Kei Chiong, led the field. With Helene Paragon cruising in a pocket turning in, Douglas Whyte launched another Moore inmate, Joyful Trinity (119lb), on a surging run widest of all.

But fortune favoured the rail-hugging Helene Paragon. The four-year-old slipstreamed Dashing Fellow into the stretch and, as Chiong’s mount faltered and rolled off the rail with around 300m to go, the ice-cool Moreira capitalised, driving the Polan colt into the clear for a cosy two and a quarter-length triumph.

“He’s a serious horse,” said the Brazilian, who notched a five-timer on the day to mark his crowning as Champion Jockey for a second successive season with a record-smashing 168 wins.

“The way he’s done it today has impressed me and it feels like he’ll be among the best horses for the Hong Kong Mile in December,” Moreira continued. “He’s progressed each time that I’ve been on board and I think he’s good enough to be going to the internationals in December and capable of doing it. It’s nice to have him.”

Joyful Trinity took second, a length and a quarter ahead of Flame Hero, with Circuit Land fourth.

Moreira and Size received their championship trophies in front of the grandstand but the enthusiastic Sha Tin crowd reserved its biggest cheer for Kei Chiong’s arrival on the podium to receive the inaugural Tony Cruz Award, presented to the season’s top local rider. Chiong rode a double on the day to seal the Tony Cruz Award, ending her first season with 37 wins in all to finish sixth in the jockeys’ premiership. Race fans voted the apprentice sensation the season’s Most Popular Jockey, too.

The season’s Most Admired Overseas Horse – voted for by race fans – was also unveiled this afternoon. That accolade went to Japan’s star middle-distance galloper A Shin Hikari who stunned the Sha Tin crowd when making all to win the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup in December. The five-year-old further enhanced his reputation with a brilliant wide-margin win in France’s G1 Prix d’Ispahan, a victory that took him to the top of the LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.

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John Moore-trained Helene Paragon, ridden by Joao Moreira, wins the Sha Tin Mile Trophy at Sha Tin Racecourse today.
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John Moore-trained Helene Paragon, ridden by Joao Moreira, wins the Sha Tin Mile Trophy at Sha Tin Racecourse today.

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