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Werther seals Dubai trip

A group of New Zealanders have an important focus on the Dubai World Cup meeting next month after Werther recaptured his best form at Sha Tin on Sunday night.

Werther, Hong Kong's reigning Horse Of The Year, remains unbeaten over the Sha Tin 2000 metres after giving John Moore his fifth win in the Gr.1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup on Sunday and now the son of Tavistock will head to Dubai for the US$6 million Dubai Turf (1800m) on March 25.

Andrew Campbell, who originally trained Werther at Opaki before the horse was sold to a client of the Moore stable a couple of years ago, says the Hong Kong Gold Cup win could not have been timelier.

"We've got his full-sister going to the Sydney Yearling sales," said Campbell, who co-bred and co-raced Werther with a group of friends, including Tommy Heptinstall.

"Actually she goes through the ring in Sydney a week or so after the Dubai race so it would be good if Werther does well there. I think Tommy is going up to watch him in Dubai. He was over in Hong Kong when he won the Hong Kong Derby."

Campbell, who also previously trained Werther's sire Tavistock, has a two-year-old half-sister to Werther by Derby winner Pour Moi that will be going to the Levin jumpouts on Tuesday.

Campbell trained Werther to win four races and over $470,000. Werther won three races in New Zealand with the highlight being the 2015 Gr.2 Valachi Downs Championship Stakes at Ellerslie. He then ran second in the Gr.1 South Australian Derby, won the Gr.2 Eagle Farm Cup and was runner-up in the Gr.1 Queensland Derby.

"It's exciting to see what he's doing," Campbell said. "I knew he'd be better with time. He was just so weak early on."

Werther has had eight starts for Moore for four wins and three placings. He won the BMW Hong Kong Derby in March last year and the Gr.1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup the following month.

He had missed the early part of this season with a right hind suspensory injury and resumed in last month's Gr.1 Stewards' Cup (1600m).

Moore believes Werther will be a strong chance in Dubai and that opinion is shared by Hugh Bowman, who rode him to victory on Sunday evening.

"I don't get too carried away with international ratings because it's hard to assess, but I don't think there's any doubt he's in the top 10 horses in the world on turf, this horse," Moore told reporters.

"To beat a genuine Group One field here in the manner that he did, and to suggest he can only improve with it fitness-wise, if he goes to Dubai he'd have to be a legitimate chance, regardless of the field – as long as he travels over well and settles in." – NZ Racing Desk


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