Master trainer John Moore has had a “mortgage” on Griffin races in Hong Kong of late but even he admits he may need a touch of luck for the run to continue on Sunday.
The 70-year-old has a proud history of producing top-class gallopers in the races and has won the last three editions of Sunday’s Yau Ma Tei Plate (1,000m) with Aethero (2019), Styling City (2018) and Amusing City (2017).
Moore also produced Group One placegetter Thanks Forever in a later Griffin race in 2018.
On Sunday, Moore will debut raw two-year-old Like That, who he believes will improve with time.
“We have a bit of a mortgage on the Griffin races but we are a bit behind schedule this season,” he said.
“I have two Deep Fields but a lot were delayed getting into Hong Kong, which is a bugger because the original plan was to get them in January for the April races but it just wasn’t possible.
“With all that happening, I have only got the one Akeed Mofeed [Like That], he has been over in [Conghua] since he got here.”
As a two-year-old racing against a field of three-year-old’s, Like That will have to be above average to make his presence felt.
In his only barrier trial since arriving in Hong Kong, Like That was slow to jump before making significant ground on his rivals over a 800m scamper.
“We had one little setback with him which wasn’t sinister, we got him back, then sent him back to China and trialled him there and he did it all very well,” he said.
“When we did the gate test he jumped really well but when we put the blinkers on, he was a little bit apprehensive but he did go on to hit the line.
“I had a superstar kick off his career last year and the year before I had another one [Thanks Forever] as well.
“It would be good to continue in the same vein as Thanks Forever and Aethero.”
Like That will race under jockey Zac Purton against just five rivals on Sunday, giving Moore hope his two-year-old can prevail on class alone.
“I haven’t done the form on the others yet but what I do know is that [Like That] can gallop,” he said.
“The Akeed Mofeeds need ground, we know that, so I am sort of hoping that they are a pretty ordinary bunch and he will get away with being a smart type.”
Purton sits on 96 wins for the season and will be looking to crack the century at the race meeting, as will his rival Joao Moreira who has 98.
Moreira will ride the Douglas Whyte-trained Smiling Face, who has had three barrier trials since arriving in Hong Kong in September last year.
Despite being pushed out significantly, Smiling Face was able to win an 800m turf trial in February before putting in a solid effort against seasoned horses over 1,000m.
Trainers’ title contender Francis Lui Kin-wai saddles up two runners in the race with Derby-winning jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu electing to ride Sunny Star.