Not bad for a stand in!

Karis Teetan rocks a rain-soaked Sha-Tin to win his first Gr2

Karis Teetan wins the HK Gr2 Chairman's Trophy

Karis Teetan wins the HK Gr2 Chairman’s Trophy Photo:  Kenneth Chan

With star rider Joao Moreira serving out a suspension, our Mauritian Magician proved that he was more than up to the task, steering John Moore’s charge Able Friend home to a smooth victory in the Gr2 Chairman’s Trophy over 1600m on Sunday afternoon.

Able Friend ran a good second to Designs On Rome in a memorable BMW Hong Kong Derby three weeks ago, but with their sights set on the Gr1 Champions Mile on 4 May 2014, trainer John Moore felt his 1,200-plus pound star needed a run in between and opted for yesterday’s Chairman’s Trophy.

It was a tricky task against a 6 horse field on a wet track, but the imposing four-year-old justified the decision, cruising to an easy length and three quarters victory with Packing Whiz just edging out Pleasure Gains for second.

Nominal leader Helene Spirit missed the start, leaving Pleasure Gains as a surprise pacemaker and resulting in slow early and middle sectionals – giving Teetan the task of getting Able Friend to settle at the rear, and then timing his run to catch the leaders.

Teetan said it was not so much a finishing burst of 21.68s for the final 400m that proved Able Friend’s credentials, but the way the big gelding dropped the bit as the speed stalled in front of him. “He knows it’s business time when it is time to race, and he caught a big fly when the gates opened and I had to sit quiet on him because he wanted to get going. He is a big horse, and to try and bring him back to you – it’s a lot to ask of a horse like that. You can see how he ran in the Derby, he switches off behind them and only the really good horses can do that, you can have them where you want them and if you want to sit off them they will do that for you until it is time to take off. It takes a class horse to do that.”

Teetan can provide a unique perspective on the progression of Able Friend too, having ridden the horse in his first two starts this term, including a Class Two win in late November. “He is a length better than last time I rode him – he climbed to another level, but he will keep climbing to another level again. It was a professional win. Everyone expected him to win like that, but the feel he gave me and the way he quickened – everything was just class.”

Karis Teetan wins the HK Gr2 Chairman's Trophy

Karis Teetan wins the HK Gr2 Chairman’s Trophy

Moore said: “I just wanted to keep him ticking over for the Champions Mile, so now he’s got some more mileage into his legs and we’ll have a very fit horse going into that race. The six-week gap was just going to be too much in my opinion. He was a very fit horse going out there today, that’s for sure, after going over 2000m in the Derby. I always felt he was a world-class horse, but he had to do that today against the older horses to prove he was up to that level.”

After a four-year-old series that included a win in the Hong Kong Classic Mile and runner-up finishes to his stablemate in the next two legs, Able Friend paraded in forward condition, down 16 pounds in body weight from his Derby run and nearly 50 pounds on his season high. Moore commented, “We can get the weight back on him before his next start. It’s still a learning curve with this horse and getting him up to 2,000m made him a very fit horse.”

Yesterday’s win means that the giant chestnut will be a likely favourite heading into the 4 May Champions Mile and a possible tilt at the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot on 17 June, but any decisions on overseas ventures will be on hold until after the Champions Mile. “We will take it race-by-race – let’s see how he performs and pulls up after the Champions Mile,” said Moore.

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