Designs On Rome should be the winner of the HK$10 million Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup today but how strong a grip he has on the race and how short his odds should be will depend very much on the opposition.


That view might seem self evident - a horse race anywhere is dependent on who shows up but it is particularly important in this case.

John Moore has a tremendous history with this race, scoring his first victory in it with Wing Ho in 1987 and he has added another eight Gold Cup victories since, including five of the last seven editions.

Ironically, the horse he won with in the past two seasons,Military Attack (Zac Purton) looks the only serious obstacle to Designs On Rome (Joao Moreira) taking it today.

Just how much of an obstacle depends on which Military Attack his current trainer Caspar Fownes is able to put on the park.

Military Attack has beaten Designs On Rome home in two of their three meetings this season, but not the one that mattered most, the Hong Kong Cup. In that, they made their runs together from the back half of the field and swamped their rivals in the final 150m.

Designs On Rome lifted in the final stride to take the prize by a short head, although Fownes has said he may have lost the race in the stewards' room anyway. Military Attack has ducked left at the finish of his last two races and will don blinkers today as the trainer attempts to correct that issue.

Equally fit, this would be a chance for Military Attack to turn the tables.

Both horses are better drawn than in the Hong Kong Cup but we know Military Attack is better able to use a low barrier than Designs On Rome, who probably has not been at his best inside other horses and Moreira will be looking to get him to the outside in the straight or even before it.

Instead of being back in the field with his rival and the pair making their runs together, Military Attack can position in the first few runners to the home turn and be the one going clear and setting up a break on Designs On Rome.

In terms of a race, the map gives Military Attack every chance to upset the current Horse Of The Year but the problem is how ready he is to do it.