Vengeance of Rain became the first Hong Kong winner on World Cup night when winning the $5 million Sheema Classic (UAE-I) over 12 furlongs on the grass.
Given a confident ride by Anthony Delpech, the 7-year-old gelded son of Zabeel was never far off the pace for trainer David Ferraris. The New Zealand-bred Vengeance of Rain was sent to the front just over a furlong out. He ran on strongly to land his 10th career win, denying Mike De Kock’s Oracle West, under Weichong Marwing, and Mick Channon’s Youmzain who both finished well. Epsom Derby (UAE-I) winner Sir Percy was fourth.
Arguably the strongest ever field for this race, they went slowly early. Godolphin’s Best Alibi took the early lead. Quijano raced in second followed by Vengeance Of Rain on the rail, while Host and Honey Rider were traveling outside with Sir Percy in mid-division. The placings and the moderate pace remained much the same at the backstretch, before Sir Percy started to make his move at the home turn. Vengeance Of Rain was still biding his time behind the leaders and made a move to the outside between the tiring Quijano and Sir Percy, quickening to take the lead at the 300-meter pole.
Delpech, who was based in the UAE as recently as 2002, said: “That is a great result for Hong Kong and our racing. I won the Hong Kong Gold Cup (HK-I) on him (twice) but to come here and win is something else.”
It was Vengeance of Rain's first win outside his homeland. Vengeance of Rain came into the race off his second victory in the HK Gold Cup by a nose March 4 at Sha Tin. The $3 million prize pushed the bay's earnings to $7,925,502.
In his first start since, Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) winner Red Rocks was only ninth in this, the longest race of the night, having not been able to secure a clear run.
“He was a little bit fresh but our goal today was to relax and make a run," said jockey Corey Nakatani Of the J. Paul Reddam-owned Irish-bred Red Rocks. "He got a little tired, so no disgrace. He is going to move forward off this race. We will get them next time.”
Runner-up Oracle West was arguably a bit unlucky as he was denied a run at a vital stage, while Youmzain and Richard Hughes, compromised by the slow pace, made good progress in the straight from the rear of the field and was nearest at the finish.
The three Americans, Honey Ryder (11th), Host (12th) and Obrigado (13th) were disappointing.
“I was out wide the whole time and didn’t have any coverage," Gomez said of Honey Ryder. "She got bounced around a little bit. She is a filly against the boys and it took a toll on her.”