Moore’s happy with Werther for Sunday’s Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy

John Moore said on Tuesday that Hong Kong’s former Horse of the Year Werther (132lb) is “jumping out of his skin” ahead of Sunday’s G2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m).

The six-year-old snared a third career G1 win in his last race, the Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m). That was back in May but Moore believes he has his talented charge in fine shape for his first start this season and is expecting a positive outcome.

Last year, Moore took the prize with another former Horse of the Year, Designs On Rome, who, like Werther, was first-up for the campaign over a distance short of his optimum.

“Werther’s very well,” Moore said. “He’s a live chance. The gate’s important, of course, especially at the mile, but hopefully he can draw so that he can just get a soft run in behind. We’re going into Sunday with high hopes that he can repeat what he did two seasons ago when he won first-up.”

That debut Sha Tin win came in the Class 2 mile handicap on the 2015 LONGINES Hong Kong International Races day. Victories in the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) and G1 APQEII Cup (2000m) followed that season, before injury forced the Tavistock gelding’s absence through the first portion of last term, including the HKIR. Moore has had a smooth run with his charge this time around.

“Everything’s going to plan, we’ve had no setbacks,” he said.

Werther developed a reputation as a bit of a recalcitrant during his rehabilitation last season as he proved to be wilful during trackwork, but those antics have not resurfaced.

“He can be a bit of a handful at times but we’ve been super careful with him in terms of what goes on with him day-to-day. We’ve had no problems this time around,” Moore said.

“He’ll run Sunday and then he’ll go into the Jockey Club Cup (2000m) next month and then the Hong Kong Cup (2000m): he’s very clean-winded so that’s all he needs.”

Moore trains six of the contest’s 13 entries. Among those, Helene Paragon (133lb) is a dual G1 winner, while fellow European import Joyful Trinity (130lb) is not far off that level. The latter made the frame in three G1 contests last term, including when third in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile.

A couple of noteworthy barrier trials suggest the handsome five-year-old is in good heart for his return to action following a hind quarter injury sustained when third in the G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup last February.

“Joyful Trinity has done everything right,” the trainer said. “He’s had two trials after coming back from a hind quarter injury and he hasn’t been knocked around. He has some relief in the weights, he’s getting a couple of pounds from the top horses this time.

“I think I had him as fit as I could last season and he was running up to the level I thought he was capable of,” Moore continued. “I’d just have my reservations about him going up to the next level, to be a set-weights Group 1winner. I think if he can repeat what he did last season, he’s a live chance too on Sunday.”

Champion Miler Beauty Only tops the handicap with 133lb alongside Helene Paragon, while G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) runner-up Secret Weapon (130lb) is slated to return from an absence. Others engaged include Moore’s recent G3 Celebration Cup Handicap (1400m) winner Beauty Generation (118lb).

Sunday’s card also features the G2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m), which has attracted 11 entries, including Mr Stunning (133lb), Thewizardofoz (133lb), Lucky Bubbles (132lb) and Peniaphobia (132lb).

Wether and Hugh Bowman,picture Liesl King