(edited Hong Kong Jockey Club report)
Presvis, trained in Newmarket by Luca Cumani and given a confident ride by Great Britain's champion jockey Ryan Moore, raced to an authoritative win in the HK$14 million Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (HK-I) on yielding turf at Sha Tin Race Course April 26.
Moore was content to settle the 5-year-old Presvis in last place in the about 10-furlong event as Viva Macau cut out the early pace and the local favorite Viva Pataca raced in mid-division.
Viva Macau was still in front with 300 meters left in the straight, and Presvis still last, but Moore stayed close to the rail and launched the winner on a decisive run up the inside to run down Viva Pataca and win going away by one length. It was the first group I success for the British-bred son of Sakhee.
Thumbs Up ran on for third, with the French challenger Chinchon in fourth. The winning time was 2:02.97.
Moore, who had only arrived in Hong Kong a few hours before the meeting after riding a group III winner in England the day before, said: "That went perfectly. I was happy to sit in last as the gallop was honest on that ground. I was never worried as he was handling the ground well. When I asked him once he picked up one horse; I knew he'd pick them all up."
For Cumani, it was a long overdue success at the international group I level after five runners-up finishes in races in Australia, Hong Kong and Dubai in the past 18 months.
"I love international racing; it has great prize money and great atmosphere," Cumani enthused.
"Presvis showed in Dubai that he belonged in group one company, and he's proved himself today," the trainer added. We'll see how he is in a few days and decide as to whether we'll take him on to Singapore for the Cup there. Then he'll have a rest, but I'd love to bring him back here in December for the big race, the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup."
The victory was worth HK$7.8 million to owner Leonidas Marinopoulos.
Darren Beadman on favorite Viva Pataca offered no excuses for the six-time group I-winning Hong Kong star. Viva Pataca edged off the rails entering the straight, moved behind Archipenko before launching his challenge and got second half-way through the final furlong and ran on well.
"He's run his usual honest race, and 200 meters out I thought he'd win, but then along came Presvis, and that was that," he said.
As for trainer John Moore, he was philosophical in defeat, praising both the 7-year-old Viva Pataca and the winner. "My horse was gallant in defeat. He had a perfect trip but the other horse was really something today. You have to give way to the young ones sometimes," he said.
Thumbs Up had two behind him into the straight and came widest to finish third in good style. Chinchon, seventh in the straight, stayed on to take fourth.
Archipenko was the first to make his challenge in the straight but could not sustain it from the distance and finished sixth. Eighth-place Niconero pulled up lame in his left fore afterward.