Viva Pataca showed his best to win the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (HK-I) at Sha Tin Sunday. His achievement can be measured by the fact that in second and third were the horses that won the world's richest turf races in Dubai last month: the mighty Hong Kong star Vengeance Of Rain and Japanese champion Admire Moon.
Winning jockey Mick Kinane could not contain a huge grin after his horse had seen off the latter two champions. It followed Kinane's shock victory aboard Able One in the Champions Mile (HK-I) 40 minutes earlier.
And, of course, both winners were handled by John Moore, who had been forced to stomach a slightly less than vintage season.
Viva Pataca, owned by Stanley Ho Hung-sun, prevailed by 1 3/4 lengths from Vengeance Of Rain, whose rider Anthony Delpech was surely on the mark when he commented that he was beaten by a fresher horse.
Moore echoed these sentiments, saying, "It might have been a good thing that the horse had missed Dubai. We came here a fresher horse than Vengeance of Rain but the way we've sprinted home here to beat two group one horses makes him something pretty special.
"Another help has been the application of the hood which has made him focus. But most of all I want to thank Mick Kinane who has done a beautiful job."
Kinane said Viva Pataca was "nicely relaxed" in transit although the jockey -- a veteran specialist at winning the world's greatest prizes -- thought that he might have gone too soon. Viva Pataca snatched the lead a furlong out off Sir Ernesto who had led "at as slow a pace as I could go," according to his rider, Felix Coetzee.
Viva Pataca and Vengeance Of Rain are likely to clash next in the group I Champions & Chater Cup over 2,400 meters on June 3. Longer term, Moore is planning a raid on the Cox Plate (Aus-I) in Melbourne.
"I would love to win a group one race in Australia before I retire and that could be the race for him," he said.
Admire Moon was forced to cover ground from his wide gate and never threatened to reproduce the telling kick that decided the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) last month.
"The horse was in good form but it was a disadvantage to break from the outside position but that's racing. He's been out of Japan for a long time and maybe needs to get back home. It would be nice to come back to Hong Kong in December again," jockey Yutaka Take said.
The Hong Kong-based quinella in the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup followed the home team filling the first three places in the Champions Mile.
A good day for the Hong Kong Jockey Club was capped by an attendance of over 42,000, up by 20% on the same program last year. Betting turnover also rose by 11%.