Trainer John Moore has shelved Group 1 ambitions for Helene Charisma with the French import instead returning to Happy Valley for the aptly-named Class 2 Le French May Trophy Handicap (1800m) on Wednesday night.
A winner of the G1 Grand Prix de Paris (2400m) as a three-year-old when named Mont Ormel, Helene Charisma has at times flashed the ability that took him to that feature score but has ultimately struggled to match his best.
Helene Charisma has not raced since finishing 44 lengths behind Time Warp in the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) in February. While he was among entries for Sunday’s (27 May) G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m), a race in which he finished fourth last year, Moore confirmed that the five-year-old instead heads to the city track midweek and will not go on to Sha Tin off a four-day lay-off.
“We’ve decided not to back him up so he’s been scratched from the Champions & Chater and we’ll only have Eagle Way there,” Moore said. “Helene Charisma trialled really well at Happy Valley the other day and maybe he just likes that bit of cushion he gets at the Valley. The jury is still out in respect to whether he is genuine, though, and the only way I can put it is that he’s a horse that can’t be trusted. He’s got plenty of talent but he just doesn’t produce it on raceday.
“He brings some good form to the table though for a race like this and you’d go in thinking he’s a chance, but knowing that he just hasn’t quite switched on mentally, he’s one to keep a close eye on here for the future.”
Helene Charisma (red cap) finishes a creditable second behind Eagle Way in the G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup last season, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Neil Callan takes his first raceday ride aboard Helene Charisma (129lb), with the Air Chief Marshal gelding drawn against the rail in the nine-horse field.
Helene Charisma is one of two runners for Moore in the Le French May Trophy, with the trainer also saddling up Circuit Glory (116lb). Joao Moreira will ride from gate six.
“I think he can win on Wednesday,” Moore said. “He’s definitely the pick of my two. He needs it a bit softer underfoot, which he gets at Happy Valley and he’s run well there the two times that he’s gone across town. He’s had a couple of issues but I believe he’ll be cherry ripe next season.
“When the horse first came to my stable earlier this year, one of the owners said to me that he was better than Werther at the same stage in New Zealand. They both won the same Group 2 race at Ellerslie. I don’t think he can get to those levels but I think he can go higher than he is rated now.”
Also lining up in the 1800m contest are last-start G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap (2400m) placegetters Prawn Baba (133lb) and Doyeni (126lb), as well as last-start winner Sharp Sailor (119lb) and Gorgeous King (117lb), who has not raced since winning at Sha Tin in November. Litterateur (124lb), Pikachu (119lb) and Winning Faith (116lb) complete the line-up.
The Le French May Trophy, scheduled as the fifth of eight races at 9.15pm, is one of two features at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, with the Class 2 France Galop Cup Handicap (1200m) also on the card. The meeting begins with the Class 5 France Galop Owners Department Handicap (1800m) at 7.15pm.
Circuit Glory (outside) will attempt to break his local maiden at the Valley, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club