Nearly 100,000 people gathered at Sha Tin and Happy Valley racecourses in Hong Kong Feb. 2 to celebrate the Year of the Horse during the traditional Chinese New Year race day.
Akeed Mofeed was the star of the show in front of 90,000 appreciative fans at Sha Tin, winning the Centenary Vase, a local group III event, under high weight of 133 pounds in his first start since capturing the Longines Hong Kong Cup (HK-I) at the International Races Dec. 8 at Sha Tin.
The British-bred son of Darley's sire Dubawi willingly responded to Douglas Whyte's shake of the reins and uncoiled his patented late run to score by a neck from hard-charging Ashkiyr in 1:46.82 for the 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) on good turf.
"We knew we were the best horse in the race, it was just a question of if he'd had enough work" said Richard Gibson, who trains the 5-year-old horse for Pan Sutong. "He's a wonderful athlete, so of course he responded brilliantly and he was very impressive."
The Centenary Vase was Akeed Mofeed's warm-up for the track's top-level Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup at 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) in three weeks time. He also is a candidate for a trip to Dubai, where he holds entries in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) and $5 million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I), both March 29 at Meydan Racecouse, but Gibson said a decision would be made after the Gold Cup.
Akeed Mofeed was bred by Rabbah Bloodstock Ltd. out of the Tiger Hill mare Wonder Why, and started his career for John Oxx in Ireland where he finished fourth behind Camelot in the 2012 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (Ire-I) at the Curragh. He subsequently captured a stakes at Cork by five lengths before shipping to Hong Kong to start a new career in 2013.
Hong Kong Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said the day's card marked an excellent start to the Year of the Horse.
"With the great weather, a large array of special activities on course, and some very exciting and competitive racing, a total of 98,149 people chose to celebrate at both racecourses," he said. "We set ourselves a target of 90,000 people at Sha Tin and we achieved that."
Turnover for the day was HK$1.512 billion (US$194,731,000), but Engelbrecht-Bresges said the handle was secondary.
"Turnover is similar to last year but on our biggest days like this, turnover is not the most important thing; it's about people enjoying the sport and the activities we have here at the racecourse."