Eagle Way gets the better of Helene Charisma to win the Queen Mother Memorial Cup last year.
©Hong Kong Jockey Club
By Andrew Hawkins
Trainer John Moore believes that a strong performance last weekend has Eagle Way right on song to defend his title in Sunday’s (6 May) G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap (2400m) at Sha Tin.
Eagle Way stepped out in last Sunday’s (29 April) G1 Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m). He was no match for runaway winner Pakistan Star, but he found the line strongly to finish third, just over four lengths from the Tony Cruz-trained victor.
“He’s come through the run terrific, he’s pulled up as good as ever,” Moore said. “He’s eaten up, he’s very healthy and I couldn’t be happier. And the run itself was really good, he got blocked a couple of times on the turn and if he didn’t, I think he may have run second.
“We were delighted with the run, he’s finished in the placings behind a horse in Pakistan Star that produced a world-class effort. If there is any rain around over the next couple of days, it will only enhance his chances.”
Only three horses have won this race in consecutive years, the most recent being the Moore-trained Dominant. In fact, Moore has won four of the last six runnings of the Queen Mother Memorial Cup, with Helene Happy Star’s win in 2015 joining Dominant’s 2012/13 double and Eagle Way’s victory last year.
“Like Dominant, Eagle Way is a horse that relishes the 2400m,” Moore said. “We don’t get many opportunities at the trip so we have to step him out whenever they come along. Dominant won the (LONGINES Hong Kong) Vase after winning two of these, so maybe Eagle Way can do the same later this year!”
The Queen Mother Memorial Cup is one of only three races at 2400m throughout the Hong Kong season and serves as a key lead-up to the G1 Standard Chartered Champions &; Chater Cup, to be run at the course and distance on 27 May.
“At the moment, Eagle Way’s going to be my only runner in the Champions &; Chater,” the trainer said. “Werther is going to Japan for the Takarazuka Kinen, while we are giving Beauty Generation a break – we had mentioned it the other day but I think he’s done his job. Ruthven will also have a break and hopefully will come on for the summer.
“Helene Charisma is still some possibility but he needs to pass a trial on Saturday at Happy Valley. He’s eligible for easier races, too.”
Among Eagle Way’s rivals on Sunday are three of Pakistan Star’s stablemates – BMW Hong Kong Derby third Exultant (121lb), veteran Doyeni (113lb) and German import Savvy Six (113lb).
Last-start winner Prawn Baba (115lb), the Danny Shum-trained Happilababy (113lb), Tony Millard’s Rickfield (113lb) and Argentinian G1 winner Goldfield (113lb) complete the eight-horse line-up.
The Queen Mother Memorial Cup is the fourth of 11 races at Sha Tin’s Chairmen’s Day on Sunday and is set to jump at 7am. The opener, the Cheung Cup for griffins, is scheduled for 5.30am.