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Moore hopeful of more magic in Hong Kong

Ryan Moore believes Magical is capable of notching up her eighth Group One success in Sunday’s Longines Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin.

Former Aidan O’Brien-trained runners Highland Reel, Yeats, Minding and Rock Of Gibraltar all claimed seven top-level successes, but Magical could raise the bar for the Ballydoyle handler if she triumphs in the 10-furlong feature.

Magical added both the Tattersalls Gold Cup and Irish Champion Stakes to her tally this term and was last seen chasing home Tarnawa in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland last month.

While Moore believes she is the one to beat, he is wary of the Japanese-trained challenge as well as home hope Furore, who has won his last two outings for Tony Cruz.

Longines Irish Champions Weekend – Day One – Leopardstown Racecourse
Magical got the better of Ghaiyyath in the Irish Champion Stakes (PA)

Moore said: “She’s been great for a long time and it’s fantastic that she’s here. She’s won seven Group Ones.

“The reality is they probably have her to beat, but again you always respect the horses that are in there.

“There’s three smart Japanese horses in there that have all won Group Ones (Danon Premium, Win Bright and Normcore).

“And Furore is in good shape. It’s a small field, but there’s not a bad one in there, I don’t think.”

Mogul was fifth in America on his latest start
Mogul was fifth in America on his latest start (Dan Abraham/PA)

Moore also teams up with the O’Brien-trained Mogul in the Longines Hong Kong Vase, with the colt having finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf on his latest run.

“He’s a beautiful horse, we’ve always held him high regard,” he said.

“He took a while to come to hand this year, but you’ll see him out on the track – he’s very well-made, a very strong colt.

“He was very impressive when he won the Grand Prix de Paris (on) Arc Trials weekend and, at the Breeders Cup, he wasn’t beaten far in what was a messy sort of a race.

“Obviously there’s only seven in there (the Vase), Exultant always runs his race but he (Mogul) would look to have a solid chance in that race.”

Moore will also be in action in the Hong Kong Sprint as he teams up with Japanese contender Danon Smash.

His trainer Takayuki Yasuda won the six-furlong prize with Danon Smash’s sire Lord Kanaloa in both 2012 and 2013.

Danon Smash finished a close-up eighth last year, but Moore is expecting a tough task against former Australian star and Everest winner Classique Legend, who is having his first run for Casper Fownes.

Danon Smash lines up in the Sprint for Moore
Danon Smash lines up in the Sprint for Moore (HKJC)

“He seems well. He’s got plenty of form in the book and it’s always hard to beat the Hong Kong horses in the Sprint,” he said.

“Obviously this year, Classique Legend looked exceptional in Australia. As always, it’s a tough race and we probably have to step up a little bit, but hopefully he can get a good run and perform well.”

Moore has prevailed on five occasions at the Hong Kong International Races – twice in the Vase with globetrotting Highland Reel in 2015 and 2017, the Cup with Snow Fairy (2010) and Maurice (2016) and the Mile with Maurice (2015).

Skalleti all set for Hong Kong Cup mission

Skalleti will bid to reinforce the impression he is a genuine Group One performer when he runs in the Longines Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday.

The Jerome Reynier-trained gelding is a multiple Group Two and Three winner – and ran a career-best when finding only Addeybb too good in the Champion Stakes at Ascot.

Immediately behind the five-year-old was Aidan O’Brien’s brilliant mare Magical, and the pair are set to cross swords again at the weekend.

Reynier’s charge served notice of his ability when beating subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe hero Sottsass at Deauville in August, having previously been third to Persian King at Saint-Cloud over a trip short of his best.

From Deauville he went on to Arc weekend to land the Prix Dollar for the second time and his Ascot outing was his first at the top level.

“He was getting 6lb from Sottsass and had ground conditions to suit, so I was always confident we’d see the real Skalleti,” Reynier said.

“He really put on a show that day. It was (then) just a case of keeping him in the same shape to win a second Prix Dollar.”

It was a quick turnaround from ParisLongchamp to Ascot, and Reynier explained: “On top of that he had a change of surroundings because I kept him in Chantilly rather than head back to Calas, given the logistical issues with going to Britain.

“It wasn’t a straightforward preparation, but he showed he absolutely belongs at Group One level on his first try.

“On Sunday he needs to show he is up to that same level in very different circumstances, around two turns and on good ground and against opposition which is very used to such a set up.

“We beat Magical last time, but this might be more to her taste and we are here to see what we can do.”

Reynier will also saddle stablemate Royal Julius at the big meeting, in the Hong Kong Vase.

“We’ve had some fabulous days with him, but he comes here off the back of two average performances,” said Reynier.

“He didn’t enjoy the heavy ground in the Arc and at Rome the race circumstances were somewhat unusual.

“But his two second places in Milan were both very good. He is a horse that can get a little disheartened and so things need to go right for him.

“That said, it’s a small field with only two horses that stand out in Mogul and Exultant. Third place looks up for grabs so we have everything to gain and nothing to lose, safe in the knowledge he is in good form.

“On good ground going right-handed at between 2000 and 2400 metres, he is capable of putting up a very good performance if he is in the mood.”

Magical on course for Hong Kong Cup

Magical remains in full training and is being aimed towards the Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin next month.

Aidan O’Brien’s multiple Group One winner was last seen being caught late on by Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, which followed on from her meritorious run in the Champion Stakes at Ascot.

O’Brien has enjoyed a bonus season with the five-year-old whatever happens in Hong Kong, as it was assumed she was going to be retired this time last year.

The decision to keep her in training has been well rewarded, with Group One victories in the Pretty Polly Stakes, the Tattersalls Gold Cup and a barnstorming display in the Irish Champion Stakes over Ghaiyyath.

“At the moment the plan is to take her to Hong Kong,” said O’Brien.

“She’s still in full work at the moment and that’s what we are looking at the minute.

“She ran very well in America, we were very happy with her at the Breeders’ Cup.”