Hong Kong champion Able Friend has been retired from racing. He will parade in front of his fans after the third race on the May 28 card at Sha Tin during a farewell ceremony to honor his outstanding career.
The Shamardal gelding raced in the famous black and gold-trimmed silks of the late Dr. Cornel Li and one time topped the Longines World's Best Racehorse Rankings. A superstar with a powerful turn-of-foot, Able Friend achieved the highest-rating by any galloper in the history of Hong Kong horse racing. He was the Longines WBRR world champion sprinter in 2015, Hong Kong's Horse of the Year and champion miler, and a five-time group 1 winner.
"He was the equal of any horse on the planet at his peak," said John Moore, Able Friend's trainer. "He'll be known as a legend here. He's earned his place in Hong Kong folklore as that strapping, big chestnut with the electrifying turn-of-foot. The public really took to him. He had them in awe with some of the things he did. He just obliterated the best here in Hong Kong.
"It was great that this horse came to Dr. Li," Moore continued. "He would be any owner's dream, a horse of that caliber, and Dr. Li was a true horseman—he knew his bloodstock, he loved his racing, and he deserved to own a horse like Able Friend, a standout champion.
"Personally, it was a great privilege for me to have had the opportunity to be involved with Able Friend—to identify him, to see him go from provincial racing to being, at one time, the world's highest-rated horse, reaching that all-time high rating (for a Hong Kong horse) of 127. It was an honor to be given that stewardship, to guide him through his career. It was a dream. While we'll miss him, I'm sure when he gets back to the farm where he was born he'll enjoy a lovely retirement."
Moore's bloodstock arm purchased the hulking chestnut for AU$550,000 (US$570,020) out of the 2011 Inglis Easter yearling sale when he went through the ring as Lot 409. Able Friend will retire to the Ramsey family's picturesque Turangga Farm in New South Wales where he was foaled, his dam being the Volksraad mare Ponte Piccolo.
He ends his career with a record of 13 wins from 26 total starts, with earnings of $7,866,625. Standouts among his many highlights include a knock-out win in the 2014 Longines Hong Kong Mile (G1), a dominant score in the 2015 Champions Mile (G1), and, in that same year, two astonishing performances in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup (G1) and the Premier Bowl Handicap (G2).
Joao Moreira, who rode the Australian-bred 16 times for seven wins, including each of his grade 1 scores, said Able Friend is probably the best horse he has ever ridden.
"He means a lot to me because he gave me my first group 1 win in Hong Kong (the Hong Kong Classic Mile). He gave me my first international group 1 race here," Moreira said. "Obviously very few horses here have given me what he has. I'm not talking about prize money, but I'm talking about pride. To be associated with such a nice horse that has had such a great career, like him, I can't ask for much more. Everything that has come from him has been very special, he has a place in my heart and I'm very happy that he is going to have a beautiful life in a paddock."