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Military Attack: Hong Kong Horse of the Year

Military Attack 615 X 400
Photo: Hong Kong Jockey Club


After nearly 10 months, the Hong Kong racing season has come to come to the end. What started off to look like another year of dominance of the reigning back-to-back Horse of the Year, Ambitious Dragon, took a turn for the unexpected this spring. Before the end of February, Military Attack had only won a single race in 6 tries, but was still considered a top contender in the middle distance division. But trainer John Moore never lost faith in his 5 year old gelding and continued to enter him in Hong Kong graded stakes races. This confidence would be rewarded with 4 straight stakes wins, with the concluding two coming at the top international level.


The first of these 4 wins was the 2000m Hong Kong Gold Cup (HK-G1), where we saw a new strategy employed by jockey Zac Purton. Rather than using his late race turn of foot from the back of the pack, Purton kept Military Attack toward the front of the pack in a stalking position. The change in running style was instantly rewarded with a 2 ½ length score over the top middle distance horses Hong Kong has to offer. As time would show, this win was no fluke.


Next up for Military Attack was the 1800m Premier Plate Handicap (HK-G3). His win in the Hong Kong Gold Cup did not go unnoticed by the racing stewards who rewarded that effort with the top weight of 133lbs. The top impost, nor a target on his back was not enough to stop him, and he went on to a ½ length score. Things were looking good for the Irish bred son of Oratorio.


The third race in the winning streak was the crown jewel of the spring racing schedule in Hong Kong, the 2000m APQEII Cup (G1). This is one of two international Group-1 races offered by the Hong Kong Jockey Club during the second half of the racing season. Here he again utilized his new stalking running style and exploded out of the pack mid stretch to win by 1 ¾ lengths over a field that included Sajjhaa, Igugu, Eishin Flash, California Memory, and Ambitious Dragon.


John Moore now realized his blooming star had reached unprecedented levels. Knowing his horse was hotter than the approaching Hong Kong summer, he decided his form was still good enough to try and win something he had never won before. And so Moore entered the gelding into what would become the most dominating win he has seen in his career.


The Singapore Airlines International Cup is a perfectly timed international Group-1 race that draws some of the top middle distance horses from Dubai, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan. This year’s edition drew the company of globetrotting Grade-1 winners Hunter’s Light, Red Cadeaux and Meandre. Of course the same international quarantine rules applied to invading Military Attack, as did the climate of the hosting country Singapore.


Set off from the 4th post in the field of thirteen, he was settled mid pack on the rail by regular rider Zac Purton. Coming into the stretch, it looked like he would not be able to get a clear shot at the wire, but when a small hole opened, Purton hit the “go button” on Military Attack, and he responded by looking like he got shot out of a cannon. Instantly opening a 5 length lead, Purton looked around, confused as to what had just happened. Knowing he had the race in the bag, he geared down Military Attack to a gallop for the final 100m of the race and crossed the wire 4 lengths clear of the 2nd place horse, stopping the clock in a speedy 1:59.58. This win locked Horse of the Year honors for Military Attack.


Plans for the champ have not yet been determined for next year, but his relaxed training (which can be viewed daily at the HKJC website) lately suggests he is receiving a breather before ramping up for a title defense.


Hong Kong racing as whole was tremendously successful this season with an expected $92+ billion (USD) betting handle, a 9% increase over the previous season. In addition to this, discussions for a “commingling” betting plan with Australia for simulcasts of Hong Kong races down under. It is expected to bring an additional $500 million of betting from only a select handful of races that are approved for simulcasting. This plan would go into effect for the 2013/14 season if approved by both countries.


The full list of honors for Hong Kong horses went to the following:


Horse of the Year: Military Attack

Most Popular Horse of the Year: Military Attack

Champion Sprinter: Lucky Nine

Champion Miler: Ambitious Dragon

Champion Middle Distance Horse: Military Attack

Champion Stayer: California Memory

Champion Griffin (Juvenile): All You Wish

Champion Jockey: Douglas Whyte



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Older Comments about Military Attack: Hong Kong Horse of the Year...

I love it when horses like Military Attack do a complete turnaround in form. Congrats to him for Horse of the Year honors!

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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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