By Ray Hickson
Trainer Gary Moore sees shades of his former star Takedown in emerging sprinter Much Much Better and is hoping the grey can develop into a Group 1 performer.
Those hopes have to be held over to 2022 after travel restrictions prevented Moore from walking an ambitious path towards the Hong Kong International Sprint later this month.
Plan A was to target the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes in Perth, run last weekend and a race won by Takedown in 2016, with a view to proving himself worthy of the Hong Kong trip.
Instead, Plan B sees the four-year-old appear in the Smithfield RSL Sprint (1200m) at Rosehill on Saturday where he’ll chase his fourth win since joining Moore’s team.
“He’s been great for the stable,’’ Moore said.
“We’ve had nine winners with Viribright, it’s been quite amazing, and there’s more to come. When brother John and I went our own way we were lucky enough Mr Cheng came along.
“To start with he gave us five horses and now we’ve got 10.
“I wanted to find a Listed race and hopefully get to the Winterbottom, like I did with Takedown, which didn’t come to fruition.
“He’s not in Takedown’s class yet but that’s how much I think of the horse.”
Much Much Better, $6 with TAB on Thursday, spent a week at the farm after his runaway win at Newcastle on November 13 where he made good use of a light weight and led all the way.
That race was a Benchmark 88 where he carried 51kg with now senior rider Brock Ryan in the saddle and Moore elected to come back to a 78 on Saturday, where he’ll rise 7kg after the claim for apprentice Tyler Schiller.
“I didn’t think he’d win that impressively but I thought he’d be very hard to beat,’’ Moore said.
“I said to Brock that he’s got 51kg and let’s use the light weight. Jump and lead and when he gets to the 300m let him start to stride because he goes through his gears.
“He really picked up in the straight and he beat a horse of Godolphin’s (Gravina) they think something of.”
Moore believes the jump and run blueprint is the right one for Much Much Better though jockey Tim Clark, who rode the grey to his two previous wins, is of a view that he doesn’t have to lead to win.
At this point Moore isn’t keen to change a winning formula.
“When Tim rode him he said he thought he’s a horse that likes to drop in third or fourth and chase, and that sounded good to me,’’ he said.
“But I thought to myself the way he works of a morning, he leads the work, I thought he was going better like that.
Much Much Better wins at Newcastle on November 13
“On his work going into this race he has improved and he looks great. We’ve still got some leeway to go to another 88 after this then look for a stakes race.”
Meanwhile, Moore is keen to produce three-year-old Sing A Love Song in this month’s Gosford Guineas after an encouraging trial performance at Canterbury on Tuesday.
The colt has had one run for Moore, a close second at Hawkesbury back in August, and with form around Group 1 winner Home Affairs from earlier this year he’s excited about what the future holds.
“I was really impressed by him in the trial on Tuesday, I think he’s a pretty classy horse. He’s a horse to follow,’’ he said.