January 23, 2022

Able Friend confirms supremacy in Hong Kong Mile

Last updated: 12/14/14 7:23 PM

Able Friend put the race away with his trademark burst, and Joao Moreira had extra time to savor the victory
(Hong Kong Jockey Club)

Dr. and Mrs. Cornel Li Fook Kwan’s Able Friend was the hottest favorite of
Sunday’s four Hong Kong International Races, and the Mile kingpin took 1:33 2/5
to put on an exhibition at Sha Tin. The opening act of a double for trainer John
Moore and jockey Joao Moreira, who would later team up to take the Hong Kong Cup
with Designs on Rome, Able Friend was positively explosive en route to a 4
1/4-length conquest — a stakes-record margin.

The Australian-bred son of Shamardal figured to be tough to beat, having
dominated the Hong Kong Classic Mile, Chairman’s Trophy and the Jockey Club Mile
in his latest. He has also finished second to Designs on Rome over longer
distances in the Hong Kong Classic Cup and Hong Kong Derby, and his only career
loss at this trip came in the May 4 Champions Mile to the now-retired South
African Variety Club.

Poorly drawn in post 11 here, Able Friend was taken back near the rear of the
field early, and for an instant at the top of the lane, it appeared as though he
might be in trouble. Gold-Fun, the 2013 Hong Kong Mile runner-up who was on the
front end throughout, found another gear. But once Moreira angled Able Friend
out, the race was over, and the “Magic Man” had time to celebrate crossing the

“The way he’s won, coming from a long way back, passing by them and not even
being hit by the whip — wow! He’s such an amazing horse,” Moreira marveled. 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.

“I was never worried in the race and knew exactly what I was doing. I have a
lot of faith in this horse and knew he was just going to come over the top of
them. He has that kind of stride, a really big stride, that I knew that if he
put it all together he was just going to run over the top.”

Moore was similarly awe-struck by the performance.

“To see the facile win today was just amazing and I’m just a very lucky
person,” the trainer said. “This horse has a turn of foot as he can relax
through his races. 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.”

Trainer John Moore had early on pegged Able Friend as an international Group 1 horse
(Hong Kong Jockey Club)

Gold-Fun’s connections were pleased with being best of the rest.

“We wanted to change things up a bit — take the initiative and make the
pace,” jockey Douglas Whyte said. “He ran very well but obviously was no match
for the winner.”

“We tried different tactics but we still got beaten by a champion horse and
all credit to the winner,” trainer Richard Gibson said. “We’re very proud of our
guy today. He stuck on well at the end.”

Gold-Fun just salvaged runner-up honors from the flying Japanese pair of
Grand Prix Boss and World Ace, the respective third and fourth. Defending
champion Glorious Days, in the thick of contention for some way, tired to fifth.
Woodbine Mile winner and Breeders’ Cup Mile third Trade Storm was seventh.
Ambitious Dragon, the 2012 winner, was scratched Sunday morning after failing to
get over a right front foot problem.

Able Friend’s scorecard now stands at 14-8-4-1. An A$550,000 Inglis Easter
purchase, the chestnut was bred by Ramsey Pastoral Pty Ltd. He raced twice in
his native Australia for Team Hawkes, missing narrowly after being hampered in
his Rosehill debut and then opening his account in a Wyong handicap. His early
education complete, Able Friend graduated to Hong Kong, and the rest is history.

“It will be the Stewards’ Cup next,” Moore said of the next mile major on
January 25, “and I’ll do my utmost to convince the owner to go for the Dubai
Duty Free — but that might be a long lunch and a lot of alcohol. We’re so happy
we’ve got him in the yard and we look forward to better things.”

Able Friend was produced by multiple Group 3-placed stakes heroine Ponte
Piccolo, a Volksraad half-sister to South African Group 1 winner Global News.

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