Farewell to the greatest Friend Hong Kong racing has ever had
Racing lost another top-class miler on Thursday with the confirmed retirement of Hong Kong star Able Friend, just three days after it was announced Solow had run his final race.
Able Friend was rated the best horse in the world at one point of his highly successful career, which will draw to a close officially on Sunday. He will parade in front of his many fans at Sha Tin after the third race during a special ceremony to honour his achievements.
No horse trained in Hong Kong has ever been rated higher than Able Friend, whose trainer John Moore said: “He was the equal of any horse on the planet at his peak.
"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 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. 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 – probably eyeballing sheep and cattle!”
His owner Dr Cornel Li Fook Kwan died last month and the gelding's retirement had been hinted at due to the recurrence of a tendon problem that had sidelined him previously.
Able Friend will retire to the farm in New South Wales, Australia, where he was foaled, having won 13 of his 26 races – notably the Hong Kong Mile in 2014 and the Champions Mile in 2015 – and earned nearly £5 million in prize-money.
Jockey Joao Moreira, who won on him seven times, said: "Very few horses here have given me what he has. I’m not talking about prize- money but I’m talking about pride.
"Everything that has come from him has been very special. He has a place in my heart and I’m very happy he is going to have a beautiful life in a paddock.”
The one disappointment came on Able Friend's only outing in Europe – a clash with Solow in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2015.
The eagerly awaited head-to-head proved one-sided as Able Friend sweated up, never landed a blow and trailed in sixth behind his Freddy Head-trained rival.