Magic’s perfect streak tees up Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize

Magic Legend is hurtling towards an international test in next month’s HK$14 million Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) after maintaining a perfect Hong Kong record with a battling victory on Sunday in the Class 2 Nam Long Shan Handicap (1200m) at Sha Tin.

Trainer John Moore was brimming with enthusiasm after his burgeoning three-year-old snared a fourth win on the bounce under Douglas Whyte.

“He’ll take his place in the Group 1 on 7 May and Dougie will ride him,” Moore said. “Four straight – not many horses can do it and he was taking on good horses there. Strathmore was third in the Group 1 last year – that field today was pretty smart. He’s a promising three-year-old and there’s more to come.”

The Red Element gelding hogged the rail behind the pace-setting House Of Fun (117lb), and, when that rival rolled out at the top of the stretch, Whyte took advantage. The Australian import quickened into contention, battled to the lead inside the 150m, fended off stablemate Pablosky (119lb) and repelled runner-up Strathmore’s (131lb) late thrust to score by half a length in a time of 1m 08.64s.

“He showed there that he’s not a one-trick pony, he had to do it differently today,” Moore continued, “he’s shown that he doesn’t have to lead, he can sit and just come from off the speed; he still got to the line with quite a weight on his back (127lb). House Of Fun, with that weight swing from last time, went out to test him, he wasn’t allowed to have his own way in front this time.”

Magic Legend wins the Class 2 Nam Long Shan Handicap to earn a tilt at the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club

Whyte was delighted with Magic Legend. The bay only debuted at Sha Tin in February off a mark of 71 and stepped out for today’s test rated 99.

“There was nowhere to hide today,” the former champion said of the 2.8 favourite. “House Of Fun, I thought, was always going to lead me up with the weight swing, but I was happy to let him go. He’s not one-dimensional, this horse, and when the gap presented itself he showed a bit of tenacity and dug down deep.”

Moore put the gelding’s progress down to some tender and patient handling at home. Magic Legend won two from five pre-import when in the care of the trainer’s brother, Gary Moore, but was a difficult individual to deal with.

“When he came out of Australia with all his bad habits it took us a while to get him right but they seem to be all ironed out,” he said. “He just needed TLC (tender, loving care) and now his temperament has improved – we married him up with the right mafoo, which we’re able to do in Hong Kong, he has one groom the whole time and I’ve spent a lot of time in the box with him just getting him comfortable.

“He’s improved out of sight. We can get shoes on him now; it was very hard to get a bit in his mouth and now he doesn't need a bit in his mouth full-time. Vincent, my European riding boy, he rides him every morning and he’s done a great job.

“The horse is in no-man’s land, really – he’ll be rated 105 or 106 – so let him take his chance in the big sprint!” Moore added.