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Military Attack blitzes foes in HK Gold Cup

John Moore has always rated Military Attack a Group 1 winner in the making, and the Irish-bred gelding proved the trainer's judgment to be spot on with a stunning breakthrough win in Sunday's Group 1 Hong Kong Gold Cup.

"We've always thought this horse could put together a run like that, and the closing quarters proved he can be ridden handy off that kind of pace," said the trainer, for whom this was a fifth success in eight editions of the about 1 1/4-mile contest. "The hope for the future now is that he can put another Group 1 win together,"

The win represented the forging of a new Group 1 partnership as jockey Zac Purton landed a first top-level win for the Moore stable. The rider settled Military Attack handy on the rail after jumping smartly from gate one as stablemate Same World led ahead of Liberator.

"John asked me to get three back the fence if I could -- he was quite specific about that instruction," Purton said. "I didn't expect him to jump as well as he did, I could have nearly led them up early, so I was taking a bit of a tug on him just asking him to come back.

"Because my horse doesn't race so handy generally, I was trying not to let him use himself too much, so I was letting Same World go a little bit just to let my horse travel comfortable beneath me and within himself. If I was chasing him, I would have been doing too much."

After getting the hoped-for dream run three back, Purton switched the five-year-old out in the stretch between Same World and the flagging Liberator. When he asked the question, Military Attack responded with a surge at the furlong mark that took him to a commanding 2 1/2-length verdict over the deep-closing Pure Champion in a time of 2:03. Stablemate Xtension was a further short-head back in third under Douglas Whyte.

"It was a fantastic feeling," Purton said. "I just poked my head through the gap, and once I got through there, I knew I had the race won. I sort of just put a hold on him there before I let him go, and his turn of foot was explosive. We know he can reel off good sectionals -- every time he goes out there to race he runs :22 something -- so I thought if he produced that again he would blow them away today. That was no fluke!"

Owner Steven Lo Kit Sing and Moore will consider options for both Military Attack and the owner's Xtension, with a venture overseas a possibility for both.

"I'll look at the (Group 1) Dubai Duty Free for Military Attack and Zac can ride him, if we're invited," Moore said of the about nine-furlong turf test on Dubai World Cup night, March 30.

"Xtension's run today was full of merit. He was not quite at his tops yet today and he could go to Dubai too if invited. Douglas would ride him."

The victory saw Purton end the day with his advantage in the jockey's title race cut to one, Whyte having scored a treble on Little Men, All You Wish and Gurus Dream. The Australian hopes that the success will be the first of many showcase triumphs in tandem with Moore.

"John and I had a great relationship when I first came here to Hong Kong but he had a stable rider so the rides dropped off, and if I'm going to push Douglas in the championship, I really need John to give me some rides," he said, before adding, with a glint in his eye, "so if I don't win it, we'll blame John!"

California Memory was sent off a warm favorite to add to his consecutive Group 1 Hong Kong Cup wins over the course and distance, but the Tony Cruz-trained gray could finish only 10th of the 11 contenders. A post-race veterinary inspection revealed that he was displaying an irregular heart rhythm.

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