Snow Fairy cemented her status as the finest 3-year-old filly in the world when she rallied from far back to nab Irian in the final 50 yards, winning the HK$20 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup (HK-I) by a neck at Sha Tin Dec. 12.
Winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup (Jpn-I) in Japan last month, the Great Britain-based filly has won group I events in four countries this year. That's incredible when considering that she was an 1,800 Euros buy-back purchase as a yearling.
Her barnstorming victory in the about 1 1/4-mile test (worth US$2.567 million) for trainer Ed Dunlop with Ryan Moore aboard, highlighted the four-race Cathay Pacific international series. She left Moore effusive.
“At the top of the bend I thought I had no chance,” said Moore. “But fortunately they just came back to me. She’s a machine really. She has such a brilliant turn of foot. She did what we thought she could, and she surpassed it.”
“She’s not the biggest filly in the world but she’s got the biggest heart,” said Dunlop, who won the Hong Kong Vase (HK-I) in 2005 with Ouija Board. “Hopefully she’ll come back for this race again next year because she’s going to stay in training as a 4-year-old.”
The United States was represented only by Winchester, who finished 11th in the US$1.8 million Vase at about 1 1/2 miles. Godolphin claimed victory with Mastery, trained by Saeed bin Suroor for the United Arab Emirates and ridden by the ever popular Frankie Dettori, in a romp.
The other victories on Sha Tin's biggest day of racing came from South Africa's J J The Jet Plane in the about six-furlong Hong Kong Sprint (HK-I) in a tight three-way finish over Singapore champion Rocket Man and Hong Kong’s Sacred Kingdom, and Hong Kong's Beauty Flash taking the Hong Kong Mile (HK-I).
There was a total of 28 international runners in the four events. Attendance was reported in excess of 54,000.
“Today we have really staged the turf world championships, as our four international group I races of the day won by horses coming from the UAE, South Africa, Great Britain, and Hong Kong. This shows horses coming from different countries and regions can deliver good finishes in our international events,” summed up Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, chief executive officer of The Hong Kong Jockey Club.
“It’s good for our Hong Kong racing brand and demonstrates our ‘can-do’ spirit. It’s good for the Hong Kong brand, too.”
Halfway up the straight after Brett Prebble had booted Irian into the lead it looked as though a Hong Kong horse would claim the day’s major prize as well. But Snow Fairy’s remarkable acceleration proved decisive.
Hong Kong veteran Packing Winner ran third after making most of the running to keep last year’s Cup winner Vision d'Etat out of the top three.
Snow Fairy is owned by Cristina Patino, who races in the name Anamoine Limited. The bay filly is a 3-year-old daughter of Intikhab out of Woodland Dream, by Charnwood Forest. She was bred in Ireland by her owner under the banner of Wildflower Overseas Holdings. Earlier this season, Snow Fairy won both the group I Irish and English Oaks.
Gerald Mosse was part of a trifecta for French jockeys with his win for Hong Kong Mile. Trainer Tony Cruz, one of the Hong Kong’s racing legends, registered when Beauty Flash scored the Mile win while overcoming the outside barrier.
Mosse has now won each of the International races and boasts seven wins in the series, a tally matched only by Olivier Peslier.
In the Vase, Dettori produced another superb ride on Mastery, with Redwood second and the Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) winner Americain a brave third. It was Dettori’s sixth win in the December’s international event in Hong Kong.
Dettori had the son of Arc winner Sulamani poised throughout just off the pace set by Mighty High and when he sent the 2009 St. Leger (Eng-I) winner, it was over. Redwood emerged from the pack to give chase but Dettori always had things under control and the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (Can-IT) winner was making no ground on the leader while finishing second.
Americain , unbeaten in his last five outings, kept on stoutly at the end to take third, but the quick ground and dropping back in trip from two miles to 2,400 meters was his undoing.
Peslier, aboard the three-time grade I American winner Winchester, noted afterward: “I got knocked about twice in the race but I’m still here.”
Jockey Piere Strydom remained unbeaten on J J The Jet Plane, who ended a string of 11 consecutive Australian-bred winners in the Sprint.