02/26/2017 2:55PM

Hong Kong: Trainer Moore sweeps Group 1 stakes with Werther, Helene Paragon


Helene Paragon and Werther gave trainer John Moore a sweep of the two Group 1 races at Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong on Sunday, but one of the winners was a surprise.

Helene Paragon (5-1) won his second consecutive Group 1 in the $1,288,825 Queen’s Silver Cup Jubilee at seven furlongs on turf, beating stablemate Able Friend, the 10-11 favorite, by three-quarters of a length. The Moore-trained Joyful Trinity (15-2) finished third.

Werther won the $1,288,825 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup at 1 1/4 miles on turf as the even-money favorite, finishing a short head in front of 9-1 Blazing Speed.

A 5-year-old French-bred horse, Helene Paragon won the Group 1 Stewards’ Cup at Sha Tin on Jan. 30, the first Group 1 win of his career.

 Ridden on Sunday by Tommy Berry, Helene Paragon closed from the back in the field of eight to take the lead in the final sixteenth.

“He’s the bulldog of the stable,” Moore said. “He doesn’t know how to get beaten.”

The win came days after the death of Wilson Woo, a co-owner of Helene Paragon. Moore said Helene Paragon will be pointed for the Group 1 Champions Mile on May 7.

Able Friend has won nine group stakes in Hong Kong, including four Group 1 races. He was sidelined for nine months by a tendon injury, returning to racing late last year.

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Werther, who was ridden by Hugh Bowman, overcame trouble a quarter-mile from the finish to catch pacesetter Blazing Speed in the last stride. Secret Weapon was third in the field of seven.

Moore said he plans to point Werther for the $6 million Dubai Turf at 1 1/8 miles at Meydan Racecourse on March 25. The race is on the undercard of the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

A 5-year-old gelding, Werther was the Horse of the Year in Hong Kong for the 2015-16 season. He won the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin last April, and was a Group 2 winner in Australia in 2015 before being transferred to Hong Kong.

Moore has won the last five runnings of the Hong Kong Gold Cup and has won the race a record 12 times.