Keep a close watch on Werther in the parade ring before Sunday’s G1 Longines Hong Kong Cup and it might provide a clue as to the New Zealand-bred’s chances in the richest of the Longines Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin.
The Tavistock gelding’s former trainer in New Zealand, Andrew Campbell, who prepared the now 6-year-old for a syndicate that included co-breeder Tommy Heptinstall, said the horse’s pre-race demeanour could be an indicator of what’s to come.
“When he won the Hong Kong Derby, the lady doing the commentary from the birdcage said she didn’t like him – he was trying to kick out at the strapper so, as soon as she said that, I rang Tommy and said whatever you’ve got on, double it.
“When the horse is like that, he’s right. He’s a loner and likes to be left alone.”
Campbell prepared Werther to win four races and two G1 placings before his sale, but he couldn’t forecast the subsequent heights the gelding has reached from John Moore’s Hong Kong stable.
Werther’s CV also includes wins in the G1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (1m2f), the G1 Hong Kong Gold Cup (1m2f), the Champions & Chaters Cup (1m4f) and last time out the G2 Jockey Club Cup (1m2f).
“It’s a bit of a surprise, I didn’t think he was a world beater,” he said. “I knew he was a really smart horse, but all the breed gets so much better with time – just like his brother Gobstopper.”
The younger sibling, also trained by Campbell, has come to his best form as a 5-year-old this season and is back in work after a break following his bold front-running victory under Samantha Spratt in the G3 New Zealand Cup (two miles) at Riccarton Park last month.
“He’ll have a quiet trial at Te Awamutu on December 18 and then run in the Rich Hill Mile,” Campbell said. “We’ll look at the Herbie Dyke Stakes after that and into the Auckland Cup.”