Sunday, December 10, 2006
ABSOLUTE CHAMPION AND THE DUKE ARE THE PRIDE OF HONG KONG
Hong Kong unearthed it’s new champion in a changing of the guard on Cathay Pacific International raceday which featured three nail-biting finishes, a track record run and the retirement of three of the world’s great thoroughbred race mares.
Emotional victory farewell for Pride in Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup
PRIDE, the superb French mare, rounded off a fantastic career with a highly emotional victory in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup taking her winnings to a massive HK$30 million.
The Alain Royer-Dupre-trained six-year-old hung on by a short head in a thrilling climax from Admire Moon and will now be retired to stud.
Her jockey, Christophe Lemaire, came wide into the straight travelling well and when he asked Pride to quicken, she swept into the lead to win by two lengths. It looked as if the chestnut mare had her rivals tamed but then Admire Moon uncorked a withering late burst and Lemaire had to summon every last effort from Pride to scrape home in front.
In contrast to her unlucky-in-running second in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe when Pride was giving five pounds to a northern hemisphere-bred three-year-old - Rail Link when beaten a neck - this time she was in receipt of one pound from the gallant Japanese sophomore. It made all the difference.
Lemaire said: “When it came to the last corner I was behind Alexander Goldrun. She helped me into the race but unfortunately we had to come a little bit early. She has a great turn of foot, but her run is quite short so she was stopping a bit for me at the end and I was frightened we might get caught. It was her special fighting spirit that got her home.”
Royer-Dupre, whose Shamdala finish third in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase earlier in the day added: “She has been a marvellous filly who has a brilliant turn of foot. Today is a special story in a long career. We have created a new system in keeping three great fillies going for so long. I will have to find another one.”
Vengeance Of Rain, conqueror last year of Pride in this very race, was courageous in defeat, filling third place while last season’s Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby winner Viva Pataca ran a creditable fourth.
Also making her final career start, Alexander Goldrun never threatened and finished ninth.
Third time lucky for The Duke in Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile
Third in Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile in 2004 and second last year, The Duke pinched Hong Kong's premier mile event under an excellent tactical ride from Olivier Doleuze.
Trained by Caspar Fownes, The Duke was always travelling well in the box-seat position and made a race-winning move at the head of the stretch. Tenaciously, he held onto the advantage as the Douglas Whyte-ridden 6/5 favourite Armada did his utmost to run him down in the final strides, failing by a head to get up.
Ramonti, in the hands of Endo Botti, cut out the early pace in the race, and held on gallantly for third place, with a wall of horses behind him.
Afterwards an elated Olivier Doleuze said: “It's great to win my first Group Race in Hong Kong, and this horse deserves his success. He has been placed in the race twice before and today was his day. I grabbed an advantage at the head of the straight, and that was what won it for me. I could feel Douglas Whyte closing on me, but I'm happy that today was our day and that he held on.”
For Armada it was a case of what might have been. Sent off as the Hong Kong public's elect on the strength of his victory in the CX International Mile Trial, where he had The Duke back in second, Armada did absolutely nothing wrong in defeat, as Douglas Whyte threw everything into the closing stages in his bid to catch the winner. “ What can you say, when you go down by a head? The post came a stride too soon, but he ran brilliantly and he gave me everything.”
The pace set by Ramonti, who was tracked by Sir Ernesto for a large part of the race, was an honest one, and set the race up perfectly for the late dual between the two principals. Armada apart, none of the other contenders were able to take a hand in the finish, once Doleuze had launched The Duke on his run to the wire.
Absolute Champion show in Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint
ABSOLUTE CHAMPION smashed the track record in a scintillating performance in the HK$12million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint.
Collier Hill reaches new heights in Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase
The fairytale story of Collier Hill took yet another barely imaginable twist as the eight-year-old British stayer repelled the late thrust of Kastoria by a nose to win the HK$14m Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase.
The horse that cost GBP5,500 as a cast-off and was bought to win a bumper at Catterick before a spell over hurdles has now won over HK$31m, adding to wins in last year’s Irish St Leger and the Canadian International in October.
Collier Hill raced prominently and took over the lead with over 300m to go and looked to have the race in safe keeping at the furlong pole – but that was when Mick Kinane had extricated Kastoria from an awkward passage and unleashed a tremendous run that brought him to within an agonising margin of the winner. Shamdala, owned like the runner-up by the Aga Khan, ran third with Song Of Wind fourth for Japan.
While it was a tale of hard-luck tale for the Irish-trained runner-up, take nothing from Collier Hill, so boldly touted all week by his jockey Dean McKeown - a man better known for his exploits at tracks in the north of Britain – as a horse that would not be beaten and one that excels when he travels overseas.
“I knew I had won turning for home!” the rider joked in the post-race media melee. “He picked up really well but near the line he turned his head at the crowd shouting and he started to ease up and when Kastoria came at him he really stuck his head out and just got in.”
Trainer Alan Swinbank, who trains 120 horses in a yard of flat and jump horses in North Yorkshire, added: “He was a bit dehydrated on Thursday and for a time it was touch and go whether we would run, and it was only yesterday that he came right again. We have always had trouble his joints and now we can look after them when he gets home. He deserves a break now, doesn’t he?”
“Long term, we might come back here next year, but you have to consider his age. In the meantime, he will go back to Dubai for the Sheema Classic in March when we will try to go one better than last year.”
For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive