Trainer John Moore hopes to use the Class 3 Arsenal Handicap (1650m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night to put Circuit Glory back on the road towards better races.
New Zealand import Circuit Glory, a winner of last year’s G2 Championship Stakes (2100m) at Ellerslie when named Tavidream, was considered a potential BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) contender when he first arrived in Hong Kong in June. However, after debuting in November, the four-year-old finished midfield in four Class 2 events between 1400m and 1800m, resulting in the gelding joining Moore’s stable in early February.
“I’ve only had him a short period, about five weeks or so,” Moore said at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning. “He was bought as a Derby horse but that’s all gone by the wayside now. It’s a shame – he’s bred to get over ground, being by Tavistock.”
In fact, Moore draws comparisons with stablemate and 2016 Derby winner Werther, another son of Tavistock who also won the Championship Stakes before his arrival.
“Actually, every time I look at him, I think about how he’s the spitting image of Werther,” the trainer said. “You look at his conformation, look at his head, look at him in the box, he’s a lesser version – at this stage – of Werther. He’s got a very similar temperament, too, I’ve spent a lot of time with him trying to figure him out and if you don’t have something for him, he’ll chase you out of the box.”
Circuit Glory will seek his first Hong Kong success at Happy Valley, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Last start, at his debut for Moore in a Class 2 event over 1400m at Sha Tin, Circuit Glory settled beyond midfield in a seven-horse field under Karis Teetan. He picked up nicely in the closing stages to race into third late, almost three lengths astern of Derby contender Ping Hai Star.
“In all of Circuit Glory’s starts so far, I’ve noticed that he was proving very difficult to settle and just wasn’t finding the line,” said Moore. “I threw him in the deep end a little bit by running him the other day, but he did run well – he hit the line well, although he still overraced a bit. Ping Hai Star did race past him pretty easily but at least he went with him for a little bit.
“The whole idea tomorrow night is to send him out and to get him to settle better. Gate nine over the 1650m at Happy Valley, the extra early speed should allow Tommy (Berry) to drop him in and get the chance to rip home. The extra give in the ground should suit him as well. He’s still a work in progress, though.”
Moore, who will saddle up three Derby runners in Ruthven, Rivet and Rocketeer, rues the missed opportunity to qualify Circuit Glory for the Derby. However, he believes that with time, the bay will be able to measure up to many of the 14 Derby starters.
“We all want a Derby horse, but if you sent him out over 2000 metres at the moment, he’d finish last. He’d go too hard in himself and he wouldn’t be hitting the line,” the handler said. “I’ve still got to get him to drop his head and get him into a more even rhythm. Once he does that, I’m sure you will see a horse who will make it back up into Group races.”
Circuit Glory (131lb) will face 11 rivals, including last-start winner Litterateur (133lb) and the in-form High Volatility (118lb).
The Arsenal Handicap will close the eight-race card and is scheduled to jump at 10.50pm, with the opener, the Class 5 Luard Handicap (1200m), set to begin the meeting at 7.15pm.