Tavistock delivers another strong international result

25 Jun 2018

Tavistock delivered another strong international result when his John Moore-trained son Werther powered home for second in Japan's Gr.1 Takarazuka Kinen (2200m) on Sunday.

Werther was just the second foreign horse ever to contest the event and not only did New Zealand proud but his Hong Kong racing base as well.

“We are so proud of him, he is all heart,” said an emotional John Moore, the trainer’s voice cracking, after Werther returned to the runner-up stall in front of almost 66,000 spectators.

“He’s a horse that knows where the winning post is and he showed a lot of fortitude to hit the line. I don’t like running second, never do, but from a Hong Kong point of view, we’ve shown just how good our best stayer is. To take on the best of the Japanese and to run as well as he did, it just shows – don’t take Hong Kong’s horses lightly.”

Werther was sent off at 14.9 on the Japanese tote, the 10th pick in betting in the field of 16. From gate 13, jockey Hugh Bowman snagged the Tavistock gelding back to settle in the last four down the Hanshin straight the first time, sitting quietly on the bay until the 600m point.

Bowman then brought Hong Kong’s 2015/16 Horse of the Year to the outside of the field and began to track up promisingly, making strides at every call. Cornering widest of all, he came with a withering run down the centre of the track and, entering Hanshin’s notorious rise at the 200m, he loomed up as the possible winner.

However, he could not reel in trainer Hidetaka Otonashi’s gutsy Mikki Rocket, who scraped home for a neck victory.

Bowman, who rode in Sydney on Wednesday and flew to Osaka specifically for the Werther ride, was proud of his mount’s effort to finish second.

“To be honest, even though we didn’t win, I couldn’t have been happier with the horse’s performance,” he said. “I had a beautiful run in transit and he seemed to enjoy the genuine speed that he gets in Japan. I had the run I desired, he was very comfortable and I was able to move into the race behind Vivlos, which I felt was the main danger. At the top of the straight, I thought he was going to win, and I thought I had the winner covered at the 200m, but at the line, I felt the winner was going away from me. It’s disappointing, you always want to win, but he’s still run the race of his life even in defeat.”

Moore confirmed that Werther, with his season now at an end, would aim at the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) in December, while he is eyeing off a G1 Dubai Turf (1800m) run next year with the six-year-old. Bowman said that he would like to ride Werther whenever possible in his upcoming campaign.

“I’d like to ride him wherever he races, he’s one of the most consistent horses I’ve ever ridden and he’s always racing against the best,” the Australian jockey said. “I think the key to Werther is a solid tempo – it’s what brings him undone in Hong Kong, they rarely go a true speed and when the pace slackens, he struggles. If you look at his best races, they have all been when foreign horses have come to Hong Kong. His best win was in the QEII Cup and that was a high-pressure race. He got that here and hopefully he can find more races like this.”