Aethero is HK's new superstar
He breaks record and clocks 54.69sec for the 1,000m
It isn't often that we see and hear Joao Moreira wax lyrical about a horse.
He does the job, dismounts and prepares for the next.
But not on Saturday.
He was, well, over the moon.
Aethero had lowered the great Sacred Kingdom's 12-year 1,000m track record at Sha Tin and Moreira was ecstatic.
"He's a star. He's a star!" were the first words he said to trainer John Moore when returning triumphant on Hong Kong's most exciting prospect.
"He's going straight to the moon," the Brazilian added after weighing in.
Aethero had brushed aside fellow rising star Voyage Warrior, the only other horse in the past decade to have dipped below 55 seconds, as he clocked a sizzling 54.69sec, one click inside Sacred Kingdom's old mark of 54.70sec.
Said trainer Moore: "Voyage Warrior is no slouch, so what Aethero did in the race shows what I have been saying about him all along.
"He broke the record. I believe he has the makings of a superstar."
The trainer is no stranger to handling horses in that bracket. To rattle them off quickly, there was Beauty Generation, Viva Pataca and Able Friend. All reached those dizzy heights under the Australian's care.
Moreira was the outstanding Able Friend's regular partner and was willing to make a comparison.
"Ability-wise, there's a little bit of Able Friend about him," he said of the Australian-bred three-year-old.
Moore, too, acknowledged the obvious similarities between the two big chestnuts, but also one difference.
"He's not as advanced as Able Friend was at the same age. This fellow is still a little goofy, but he'll get a mile for sure," the trainer said.
Aethero was unable to match the early pace of Voyage Warrior and Multimillion, with Moreira needing to nudge his mount along to race within striking range of the pair.
But, as the race developed, the leaders felt the pinch and Aethero quickened on by to a dominant win.
"He was in the position where he would have every chance, because I knew there was a fight up front and they were not as relaxed as my horse was behind them," the rider said.
"He wasn't travelling very keen, I had to niggle him for a couple of furlongs. But when I put him under pressure and gave him a tap on the shoulder, just a touch, I could feel him pick up right away and I had to hold him back because that was probably a little bit too early.
"At the 350 (metres) I had to let him go and he just ran away. Right now, he's got everything in him and he's on the way to the Group levels," he added. - HKJC