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Source: HJKC Racing via Facebook
The Hong Kong Gold Cup, held at Sha Tin racecourse, is one of the most prestigious horse racing events in the world. With HK$10 million up for grabs, the best trainers and jockeys in the business will be raring to go ahead of February’s big event and the well-fancied Pakistan Star could be the one to beat if aimed at this particular race.
He has attracted worldwide attention for the wrong reasons in recent times, Pakistan Star is a quirky type at best. He stopped dead in his tracks when a $1.20 favourite at this track in the Group 3 Premier Plate and then again at the same spot in an October trial. Originally hit with a ban, trainer Tony Cruz has worked hard to get Pakistan Star focused on the track and he came through his latest trial race unscathed.
In order to be eligible to compete in a race of this magnitude, Pakistan Star must pass one final trial before entries shut on February 19. At the time of writing, William Hill are yet to add odds on this race to their website and punters will be keeping a close eye on the latest international ante-post markets. Should Pakistan Star be accepted into the race, he will go close – he certainly has the talent to blow his rivals out of the water.
Joao Moreira, nicknamed Magic Man by those in the industry, is the best around Sha Tin and he is currently operating at a 20% strike rate with 46 victories in 229 rides. In total, he has won over $53 million in prize money but has rival Zac Purton, currently on 43 wins, breathing down his neck. Moreira looks set to get the ride on Pakistan Star and that could be telling come Gold Cup day.
Moreira was actually on-board Pakistan Star during the incidents in question and Cruz has shown plenty of faith to stick by ‘Magic Man’ ahead of the Gold Cup. Some trainers would be tempted to look elsewhere but Moreira is the best in the business and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the Brazilian add a third Hong Kong Gold Cup victory to his name after wins aboard Military Attack and Designs on Rome in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Pakistan Star’s record speaks for itself. When he runs, he usually runs well and that is the case with most quirky horses. International racing fans with long memories will recall Labaik’s victory in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last year. The Gordon Elliott-trained runner romped home to claim that Grade One win before refusing to run at Punchestown in his next race.
Punters will be encouraged by Cruz’s positive words on Pakistan Star ahead of this race and we should, for the time being at least, assume that he is being aimed at the Gold Cup. With Moreira on board, Pakistan Star will take all the beating, especially if he gets off to a decent start. This one could be a procession if the gelding is at his brilliant best.
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