(from Hong Kong Jockey Club report)
Archipenko produced an imposing stretch run under Kevin Shea to mow down his rivals in the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (HK-I) for trainer Mike de Kock before 48,459 at Sha Tin Racecourse April 27.
The South African-trained raider had a comfortable 1 3/4 lengths to spare over French-trained outsider Balius. Hong Kong star Viva Pataca was eclipsed in third.
De Kock is becoming an increasingly familiar figure at Hong Kong's international meetings. He won the QE II Cup two years ago with Irridescence. But despite well-reported confidence from the trainer this week it was Viva Pataca that dominated the betting. Archipenko delighted his supporters with a return of almost 14-1.
The 4-year-old winner, a Kentucky-bred son of Kingmambo, had only raced 11 times previously. Owned in partnership by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, Archipenko joined De Kock's yard in December, running an unlucky third in the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) last month after winning a group II at Nad Al Sheba in February.
In the QE II Cup, Archipenko came home in a fast clocking of 2:00.8 for the 2,000 meters on good going.
The New Zealander Sir Slick went for the early lead, but he had to battle for that position with Viva Macau. In the final furlong all the attention focused on the surging Archipenko and Shea, who held off the late charge of Balius. Though second best, Balius capped a terrific afternoon for jockey Olivier Doleuze following Good Ba Ba's win in the Champions Mile (HK-I) earlier on the card.
"I know it might sound crazy after winning a group one race, but I think he is still improving and he can go and win another one. We'll be thinking about him in terms of Royal Ascot but I'm not sure what race we will target there yet," winning trainer de Kock said.
"We haven't had the horse very long and he has needed to fill out. He settled in well at our stables in Dubai and I guess a change is as good as a holiday in many respects. I'm hoping he can continue on this upward spiral because he is still improving both mentally and physically."
Shea added, "He settled nicely and it suited him having no horse on his outside. He prefers to have some daylight. When I pulled him out in the straight I gave him a couple of cracks and I knew that it would take a special one to beat us.
"I would agree with what Mike says about this horse being able to go and win another major race like this. He's more mature and more muscled and he seems to have settled better with the blinkers on him."
Darren Beadman put Viva Pataca's defeat down to a poor start from his difficult gate.
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