When it was announced early Sunday morning that 2012 G1 Hong Kong Mile winner Ambitious Dragon (NZ) (Pins) would be forced to miss this year's race after failing to pass the vet, Able Friend (Aus) (Shamardal) was, for a time, a money-back proposition. You bet. He wins. You go back to the cage and get returned whatever you invested. Thanks for playing. Logic dictates that he would drift and offer at least some sort of 'value' to those willing to take it, and as they loaded the gates, he was very much a mortal lock in the eyes of most at long odds-on.
Hard as it is to say that a 35% return on a horse race is worth it from a risk-versus-reward standpoint, the strapping 5-year-old made it look that way with one of the most jaw-dropping performances ever witnessed at the International Races, or anywhere else for that matter. Gold-Fun (Ire) (Le Vie dei Colori) was second, just as the markets predicted, while Japan's Grand Prix Boss (Jpn) (Sakura Bakushin O) ran well to be third in his career finale.
"The way he's won, coming from a long way back, passing by them and not even being hit by the whip - wow!" exclaimed the Brazilian Joao "Magic Man" Moreira, the current leading jockey in Hong Kong who missed last year's HKIR due to suspension. "He's such an amazing horse. He has a great turn of foot and the way he won today gives me the feeling that he's the best horse I've ever sat on."
You can count his trainer among the awestruck.
"This horse has a turn of foot as he can relax through his races," John Moore stated. He's not spending a penny - you just show him daylight and he's got an explosive kick. Some of the horses today were serious horses, and I think I've got one of the better milers on the planet."
Given his strong runs at longer distances as a younger horse, Moore has some grand ideas for Able Friend.
"It will be the January 25 Stewards' Cup next and I'll do my utmost to convince the owner to go for the G1 Dubai Duty Free, but that might be a long lunch and a lot of alcohol," Moore said of Dr. Cornel Li, whose Able One (NZ) (Cape Cross) upset the Mile at 65-1 in 2011. "We're so happy we've got him in the yard and we look forward to better things."
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News / scmp (p)