By Andrew Hawkins
Trainer John Moore is hoping that anticipated stormy weather in Hong Kong stays away in the lead-up to Sunday’s (4 June) Group 3 Lion Rock Trophy Handicap (1600m) at Sha Tin, with the trainer seeking good ground for his stable’s leading contender Booming Delight in the feature.
“Looking at the weather map, we are going to get showers - the forecast is for plenty of rain tomorrow,” Moore said at the Sha Tin trials on Friday morning (2 June). “It’s not that we don’t want any rain, a little bit is good, but on his previous exposed form in the UK and also his Derby run, I feel that he is not at his best with too much give in the ground. His Derby run was lacklustre. If it dries up before Sunday, though, then I think Booming Delight is entering the race as the horse to beat, most definitely.”
Booming Delight enters as one of the Moore stable’s most promising young gallopers. A winner of three of his eight starts to date, with four placings, his only disappointment came when eighth in the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m). The four-year-old was freshened up after that, and is now coming off two bold runs in Class 2 over Sunday’s course and distance where circumstances were against him.
“Both of his runs since the Derby have been full of merit,” regular rider Sam Clipperton, who partners the Fastnet Rock gelding again on Sunday, said. “Last start, from the awkward barrier, I had to cruise forward and I was probably two lengths closer to the speed than I would have liked. I had no other option. With the big weight, he stuck on really well and he was just beaten by a horse who has been in good form this season and had a feather on its back.
“I think he’s got tremendous ability, there’s no doubt he’s up to Group class and he gets the massive weight drop which will certainly enhance his chances.”
Moore won the inaugural Lion Rock Trophy last season with Rapper Dragon and initially had just G3 winner Harbour Master entered this year. Meanwhile, Booming Delight was originally scheduled to have his next run in the G3 Premier Plate (1800m) on 25 June, but Moore made a late call to enter him in Sunday’s feature when a full field was not entered on on Monday morning (29 May).
“The original plan was to trial over 1700m at Happy Valley next Saturday (10 June) and then go to the 1800m Group 3 at the end of the month,” Moore said. “Now, he will still go to that race barring no setbacks, but there weren’t many entries so I thought, as long as the owner gave his approval, it made sense to line him up here.”
The trainer is unconcerned about the late preparation change, believing that his horse lines up for Sunday’s feature in top shape.
“He’s firing, the way he galloped this morning, he wouldn’t blow a match out,” Moore said. “His last 400, he looks like he is loping along, but I clocked his last furlong and it was sensational, very quick. Sam’s feedback has been very positive too, so I’m expecting a big run – as long as the ground isn’t too shifty.”
Booming Delight’s entry has relegated Harbour Master, winner of the G3 January Cup (1800m) at Happy Valley earlier this year, to stable second-stringer. However, Moore is adamant that he cannot be discounted as a chance.
“This race has been on the radar for some time, this race and then the 1800m,” Moore said. “He hasn’t raced in some time but his work has improved, his trial was OK. He’s long in the tooth, he’s very sound and when you do get him right, he’s always a force to reckon with. He can never be dismissed.
“However, he does have to give a lot of weight to Booming Delight. On paper, he’s the one at the weights. My only concern is the track.”
Harbour Master (124lb) will be ridden by Neil Callan and will jump from gate three, with Booming Delight (115lb) directly outside him in barrier four for Clipperton.
Others in the seven-horse field are G1 Champions Mile fourth Circuit Land (133lb), Macau Hong Kong Trophy winner Romantic Touch (126lb), Eastern Express (115lb), Blocker Dee (113lb) and Doyeni (113lb).
The G3 Lion Rock Trophy Handicap is scheduled for 4:05pm, the seventh of 10 races, with the opener, the Tate’s Cairn Plate for the griffins, set for 12:45pm.
Booming Delight completes a hat-trick of wins in a Class 2 event earlier this season.