Newmarket, England: An important prep race for big events at Meydan on World Cup night took place at Sah Tin in Hong Kong on March 1, as Designs On Rome maintained his great momentum by winning the Hong Kong Gold (G1) with another authoritative display.
As always finishing fast from well out the back, he beat the 2013 UAE Derby (G2) winner Helene Super Star (ex-Lines Of Battle) easily by 1 ¼ lengths to book his ticket to Meydan, where he goes for the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1).
He won the Centenary Vase Handicap (G3) under top weight three weeks earlier, and the Hong Kong Gold Cup was Designs On Rome’s eighth win from 17 career outings.
One of the top performers at Sha Tin, the John Moore trained Designs On Rome, a five-year-old gelding with three Group One wins to his name, looks a strong contender for the ‘Sheema’.
His ideal distance is 2000 metres, but Designs On Rome normally finishes his races off very strongly and stretching out to 2400 metres could actually be to his advantage. He came from a long way off the pace also when winning the Hong Kong Cup (G1) at Sha Tin in December, a race he took by a head from Military Attack – (another interesting horse, nominated to both the Sheema and the Dubai Turf).
The two Hong Kong stars finished a length in front of the third placed Australian raider Criterion, who was half a length better than Cirrus des Aigles, a Frenchman racing fans know well in Dubai. ‘Cirrus’ was not at his absolute best at Sha Tin, but the form still looks quite solid.
While Designs On Rome had won the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) last April (again with Military Attack a close second), Military Attack was coming off an excellent run to be second in the Jockey Club Cup (G2) over the same course and distance, and Criterion was one of the better performers in Australia last year, with a narrow defeat against Fawkner in the prestigious Caulfield Cup (G1) as his high point.
Designs On Rome, who was second to Dawn Approach in an Irish Group One as a juvenile, has never been better than in recent months, and he must be respected in this valuable turf contest.
— The author is the editor of globeform.co.uk a Newmarket-based independent racing and handicapping publication.