In the run-up to the HK$14 million Champions Mile, the questions were as much about whether Able Friend was still at his best as they were about whether Luger was good enough to beat him and in the final resolution neither mattered, reports the South China Morning Post.

Luger's race finished abruptly when Zac Purton pulled him out of the race with a heart irregularity at the top of the straight and the remaining runners couldn't do enough to make Able Friend get out of a trot.

Trainer John Moore's favourite description of how Able Friend usually puts away his rivals - facile - was nowhere in sight when the gelding won the Group Two Chairman's Trophy last month but then neither was Moore.

"I was in Sydney at the yearling sales and he won but obviously wasn't the horse he normally is," Moore agreed after Sunday's hand canter ahead of quality stablemates Rewarding Hero and Dan Excel, Able Friend coming home his last 400m in 21 seconds and not a lot of change under a half nelson from Joao Moreira.

Joao [Moreira's] smile after he worked him the other day told me everything. And if you saw him in the paddock today, his coat looked much better

"I came back, tweaked a few things and he was right on song again. Joao's smile after he worked him the other day told me everything. And if you saw him in the paddock today, his coat looked much better."

Horses don't win Group Ones more easily than Able Friend won the Champions Mile, or the Stewards' Cup, or the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup, or the Hong Kong Mile. They just don't win them like that anywhere, but whether Able Friend can win just the same way at Royal Ascot is the next test. All it takes is a green light from owner Dr Cornel Li Fook-kwan.

"There was an issue that we might have to fly through Amsterdam to get there but that's been solved. We have a direct flight, Hong Kong to Heathrow," said Moore. "My son George was at Newmarket two weeks ago, looked over the stabling options and which gallops might be suitable. He would stay at Michael Bell's yard which is near the flattest gallop on the Rowley Mile - there is still a climb but not a drastic one.Jockey Joao Moreira with trainer John Moore.

"All the logistics for the trip have been worked out and we are awaiting a final answer on whether it happens or not."

Moore said the Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal meeting would be the only target for Able Friend.

"They've been trying to get him for the Sussex Stakes as well, which is worth plenty of money, but we'd only go for one race," Moore said. "It would be a 30-day turnaround, and he'd get a week in a paddock at Newmarket eating grass in the British sunshine. I think he'd like that."

The final decision lies with Dr Li and Moore will discuss it with him next week, after returning from a business trip.

Ascot might also include Not Listenin'tome, who was second under top weight in the Class Two sprint but left the trainer excited with his progress.

"About this time last year, he was nearly dead in Australia with a severe viral infection and his throat swelled up and nearly suffocated him," Moore said. "I'm not kidding, he was on his deathbed. He didn't recover in time to show form in Melbourne in their spring, but he is coming right again now. He'll run in the Group Three at the end of the month and that should establish his credentials to get a start if we take him to Ascot as well."

Joao Moreira waves to the crowd on Able Friend after winning the Champions Mile.

Rewarding Hero just cut Dan Excel (Tommy Berry) out of second in yesterday's Group One but Moore said Dan Excel was right where he wanted him: "Tommy said he was happy, the horse goes to Singapore now to defend his international win last year and he is another just coming right after the problems he had in Melbourne."