FEW trainers will be looking forward to Sunday’s Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races with as much enthusiasm as John Moore who, on a perfect Monday morning with a hot sun shining brightly, was full of optimism about his team which has strength in depth in every one of the four Group Ones.

His pair for the G1 CXHK Cup, Irian and Collection, are both pleasing Hong Kong’s all time leading trainer, with Irian in particular raising hopes that he may be capable of even better form than he showed when winning the G2 Cathay Pacific Jockey Club Cup on 14 November.

"He’s just beginning to fulfil his potential as a racehorse after his gelding operation,” said Moore. “He’s becoming a more relaxed racehorse.Brett (Prebble) rode him this morning and said ‘You couldn’t get him any fitter’.

"The horse does have a tendency to get excited before his races and sometimes he’ll leave the race behind before the start. He’s a quirky horse, but if he’s not getting too agitated beforehand I’d have high hopes for him on Sunday.”

Irian ran 1200m on the all weather in 1 minute 17.5 seconds this morning closing with a 22.9 seconds final 400m.

Collection, too, has been impressing his trainer in his work, and last year’s CXHK Cup runner-up is primed for another crack at Vision D’Etat who got the better of him last year in Hong Kong’s main event.

“Vision D’Etat made Collection look pretty ordinary last year, but the way Collection has been going he’s going to have to be at his best to do that again. In fact he’s going to have to be at his best to beat either of mine. Both are peaking right now”

Moore is at least as confident of Hong Kong’s reigning champion miler in the CXHK Mile. “I’ve seen Paco Boy many times in Europe and there’s no doubt that he is an outstanding individual,” he said.

“But we have home advantage, and with no obvious front runner in the race we also have the advantage that our horse can sit or take up the running. As long as we get a good gate I do think Able One will be the one to beat.”

And the upbeat reports continued with One World, Dim Sum and Let Me Fight in the Sprint. Of the three, Let Me Fight drew what may have been the most significant endorsement.

“He’s got so much improvement in him,” said the trainer. “He’s going to be one of my top sprinters in the future. He just got half checked as he came out last time (in the G2 CX Jockey Club Sprint) but then he closed off very well and in my view, with a clear run he would have finished very close to Little Bridge (third behind dead heaters Rocket Man and One World). If people are looking for a roughie in the Sprint he could be the one, because there’s such an upside to this horse. ”

“Of course Darren (Beadman) rides One World though and he’d have to be my main chance. If he draws a reasonable gate this time, he’s going to be very hard to beat.”

Paul O’Sullivan, too, was hopeful of his HKG1 Stewards’ Cup winner Fellowship who worked a leisurely 800m in 52.4 seconds.

“He worked nicely this morning,” said the trainer, “But we didn’t have to ask him to do too much. We just wanted to get him off the bridle at the end of a half mile. Zac (Purton) said his defeat last time (in the G2 CX Jockey Club Mile) was pace related. They just didn’t go fast enough for him.”

But the New Zealander was worried about where the pace might be coming from in the G1 CXHK Mile itself, and asked whether there might be a European to keep Able One from getting the sort of easy lead he enjoyed in the G2 CX Jockey Club Mile. The absence of an obvious alternative front runner did not increase his optimism.

Japanese CXHKIR contenders A Shin Forward (Mile) and Jaguar Mail (Vase) also worked on the all weather today.

A Shin Forward warmed up at the trotting ring then cantered easily for two laps. Work rider Koji Yamamoto said of the G1 Japanese Mile Championship winner:

“He’s very relaxed and in good condition. We do not plan to give him a fast workout this week. I hope his weight will be the same as for the Mile Championship when he was 488 kilos.”

Masanori Watanabe, work rider for G1 Japan Cup fourth Jaguar Mail who also did easy work, remarked “He’s not likely to be tired after the trip. It’s only been two weeks since the Japan Cup and we just need to keep him in the same good condition until Sunday.”