Able Friend is a Susperstar in the Making

March 01, 2015 06:42am
Able Friend Stewards Cup 615 X 400
Photo: Hong Kong Jockey Club

 

There’s no doubt now. Able Friend has asserted himself as the world’s top turf miler with another sparkling display at Sha Tin in the G1 Stewards’ Cup. Having already laid waste to Hong Kong’s top milers twice this year, the Stewards’ Cup was merely a validation of the 5-year-old’s dominance in the region. Already being compared to Silent Witness, the famed Hong Kong horse who won 17 straight races throughout Asia, Able Friend has proven that there is no competition within a few time zones that could hold a candle to his talent. Should he continue to dominate the turf mile at the same level internationally, it will not be long before Able Friend starts to pick up comparisons to some more well known greats throughout the racing world.

 

Settling toward the rear of the field with a moderate pace set up from Beauty Flame, Able Friend was like a tiger waiting to pounce once they turned for home. All it took was an angle out from Joao Moreria, and Able Friend knew what to do. The field was all out in a full drive to the wire, while Able Friend galloped along like he was only in a breezing workout. His stride was as efficient as it was gigantic. He looked to be toying with the talented field of milers, who had collectively won 13 Group 1 races in Hong Kong and abroad. 

 

 

Tipping the scales at nearly 1300 pounds, it is hard to believe the acceleration he has down the stretch. In his past three performances, he has closed the final ¼ mile in 21.41s, 21.77s, and 21.71s respectively. These times are jaw dropping on their own, but when you consider that each of them were achieved without feeling the whip, you need to question who on earth would be able to keep pace with this type of closing speed? Three perfect races, three hand rides, and three stakes wins. Bad racing luck looks to be the only thing that has a chance to see Able Friend beaten, so remaining in Hong Kong would be the equivalent of the Jockey Club handing over the keys to vault each time he sets foot on the track. The resulting buzz around the region and the big question on everyone’s mind is what’s next?

 

After the Hong Kong Mile in December’s Hong Kong International Races, Jockey Joao Moreira was quoted as saying Able Friend is the best horse he’s ever ridden. That’s a bold statement from a man who’s ridden his fair share of champions.

 

 

While the owners have expressed little interest in travelling internationally until summer, either for Royal Ascot or the Yasuda Kinen in Japan, trainer John Moore has other ideas. “My personal opinion would be to go to Dubai,” said Moore. “It’s a 10-day turnaround and it’s just easy there and easy back. I will be recommending that to [owner] Dr Li. We’ll have lunch in the next 10 days and we’ll sit down and toss up the pros and cons of US$6 million.”

 

If he does stay local, the next logical spot will be the Hong Kong Gold Cup on March 1st contested over 1 ¼ miles. The Stewards’ Cup serves as the first leg of the triple crown, and Gold Cup is stop two of that series. If the owners do choose the local route, the Gold Cup may be an enticing rematch against Designs on Rome who got the upper hand during their last meeting in the 1 ¼ mile G1 Hong Kong Derby nearly a year ago. It would sure make for a great lead up to see the worlds top miler racing the region’s best 10 furlong horse over the latter’s preferred distance.

 

The win in the Stewards’ Cup brings his season earnings to nearly US$2.8 million, and his career record to 8 wins, 4 seconds, and 1 third in 14 lifetime starts. Regardless of the campaign path for the remainder of the season, we should all be in for quite a show every time this horse enters the starting gates. His talent seems limitless; we can only hope that he gets to bring his herculean frame and sports car acceleration abroad for the whole world to see.

 

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Meet Matt Scott 

My horseracing journey began when I was 16 years old and my mom took me to Hollywood Park. Although I did not fully appreciate it at the time, the experience stuck with me forever. 10 years later, during one of my many international business trips to Hong Kong, I visited Sha Tin racetrack to watch the races. This is where my true passion began. 

 

Holding a masters degree in mechanical engineering, the puzzle of handicapping intrigued me. I have made a career of making decisions based on trends, patterns, and formulas, which is why I think I was initially drawn to the sport. However, I have truly learned to appreciate the horses and how magnificent they are as athletes. 

 

I currently live in San Jose, CA, and when not following racing, I like to spend time with my wife, mountain bike, and design high-speed bicycles that I build and race For reference, 55,000 furlongs is the distance from Hong Kong to my home in San Jose. Also, I have 1-year-old dachshund (aka wiener dog) that I am training to race in the annual Wiener Nationals held at Golden Gate Fields.   

 

The purpose of this blog is to help give people the viewpoint of a fan that is newer to the sport and eager to learn. I like to respectfully speak my mind, and often the ideas come out of left field, which could give a fresh perspective on a sport rich with tradition and history. hope to represent the many future fans that I wish to follow my footsteps into the Sport of Kings. 

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