05/28/2017 2:46PM

Werther looks to future after Champions and Chater Cup triumph

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Werther, the Horse of the Year in Hong Kong in 2015-16, won Sunday’s Group 1 Champions and Chater Cup at Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong, a race in which he was a close third in 2016.

The victory led trainer John Moore to consider Werther for two Group 1 races in December – the Hong Kong Cup at 1 1/4 miles on turf or the Hong Kong Vase at 1 1/2 miles on turf – that are part of Hong Kong’s international day of racing.

Werther (2-1) won the $1,283,416 Champions and Chater Cup by three lengths over 8-1 Blazing Speed. Eagle Way, the even-money favorite, finished third in the field of seven.

Werther was ridden by Hugh Bowman, who kept the 6-year-old New Zealand-bred gelding near the front throughout. Werther took the lead with a quarter-mile remaining in the race at 1 1/2 miles and was not threatened late. Moore said the decision to take blinkers off Werther contributed to the win.

“That was a fair test and he’s put them away quite easily in the end,” Moore told Hong Kong publicity. 

“When Hugh spoke to me a few weeks back, he said, ‘Would you consider taking the blinkers off?’ I said, ‘Done.’ I didn’t even think about it.”

Werther, by Tavistock, won the Group 1 Hong Kong Gold Cup in February, but was third in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup in April. He was later found to have blood in his throat after that race. Sunday’s race was Werther’s third Group 1 win. He won the 2016 Queen Elizabeth II Cup.

The Champions and Chater Cup was the final Group 1 race of the Hong Kong season, which began in September and continues until mid-July.