Rapper and Beauty take it easy in trial, Helene Paragon lacks spark
Most of the action at Sha Tin this week revolves around Sunday’s (30 April) G1 APQEII Cup, but the Champions Mile and Chairman’s Sprint Prize are also on the horizon and this morning’s (Tuesday, 25 April) barrier trials held a few clues to those 7 May Group 1s.
Rapper Dragon strode out in batch one, a 1000m turf trial, alongside three Champions Mile rivals, Beauty Only, Helene Paragon and the John Size-trained Contentment. Also on show in that opening trial were five horses holding a Chairman’s Sprint Prize entry: Peniaphobia, Not Listenin’tome, Amazing Kids, Sun Jewellery and Dundonnell.
Trainer John Moore was pleased with Rapper Dragon after watching Joao Moreira steer the Hong Kong Derby winner to an easy 10th of 13, six and a quarter lengths off the first-past-the-post, Not Listenin’tome.
“Rapper Dragon – that was his normal trial,” Moore said. “He just did what he had to do and there’s no indication that he’s gone over the top for the season. He appears to be still in top form, so that’s very pleasing.
“We haven’t looked beyond the Champions Mile yet, I’ll speak to the owners about it but the thought at the moment is that we’d probably put him away for next season after this run.”
Moreira, who partnered the exciting chestnut to a historic three-timer in this season’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series, said: “He felt like he always does, it was a good trial and I’m very happy.”
Beauty Only pressed Rapper Dragon when a closing second in the G2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) earlier this month and is expected to be a big threat to the rising star off 5lb better terms in the Champions Mile. Zac Purton was comfortable atop Tony Cruz’s charge in crossing the line a length and three quarters behind his old foe, on turf that was holding more moisture than the fast ground lover would have liked.
“I thought his trial was good,” Purton said. “He’s not a 1000-metre horse, of course, and they went quite fast. I just kept him out of the kick-back and he worked to the line well. He ran through the line nicely, so he’s going well.”
The same could not be said of Helene Paragon. This season’s G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) and G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) hero was niggled along at half-way and lacked spark as he finished 11 lengths last under Douglas Whyte.
“It’s a little bit of a worry because his trial this morning was lacklustre and Dougie said he might have gone over the top,” Moore said. “We’ll wait and see how he goes next week.
“We’ll just keep to the routine with him and hope he can produce his best on race day but judging from his trial he’s a bit flat. The hope is that with 10 days to go we might be able to freshen him up a bit.”
Contentment was nudged along from half-way under Keith Yeung and kept on to cross the line fifth.
Sprint Prize tune-up
Moore’s Not Listenin’tome appeared to be none the worse for his fruitless recent trip to Dubai. The gelding showed some dash under Derek Leung to finish ahead of the rest in 57.14s, a length to the good over G1 winner Peniaphobia.
“Not Listenin’tome put in a good trial considering he’s come back from Dubai. I thought he trialled well,” Moore said.
Neil Callan looked comfortable on the Tony Cruz-trained Peniaphobia, who this year side-stepped Dubai in favour of a domestic late-season campaign.
The Size-trained Amazing Kids is another aiming to put a sub-par run in Dubai behind him and the big bay travelled easily along the stands’ side rail under Brett Prebble. The five-year-old was not asked to do much and ran home soundly in ninth.
Stablemate Sun Jewellery was kept up to his work to run on for fourth, while the Caspar Fownes-trained Dundonnell, the third of this year’s Dubai contingent, tracked at the tail and was bustled for progress through the final 250m to run 11th .
Later, in batch eight, Hong Kong’s rising sprint star, Mr Stunning, breezed through 1050m on the all-weather track under Moreira. Size’s four-year-old was not put under pressure to pass the post a neck second to Trendiful in 1m 01.8s.