Hong Kongers sent horse racing on its annual summer holiday after a spectacular Sha Tin season finale that gave the Jockey Club its biggest betting day in six years.
John Moore made an impassioned case for Viva Pataca to be named Hong Kong's Horse of the Year after the famous stayer clawed his way to a third win in the Citi Champions & Chater Cup (HK-I) May 31.
Trainer John Moore was in superb form after Collection, starting a piping hot 1-4 favorite, trounced Classic Mile hero Thumbs Up in the HK$16 million Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby off an inspired Darren Beadman ride.
Collection began the Chai Wan Handicap by attempting to savage the horse next door, followed up by savaging all 12 rivals in the run home, and now those willing jaws have a vice-like grip on the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby in two weeks time.
Lucky Quality did his part, winning the Feb. 7 Class One Jebsen Industrial Handicap on the all-weather track at Sha Tin under top weight of 133 pounds, and now the ball is in the court of the Dubai Racing Club to see if the flying 4-year-old becomes Hong Kong's next international runner.
Good Ba Ba emphatically confirmed his status as the world's number one older miler at Sha Tin Jan. 23, but even a $5 million purse in Dubai and a $1 million bonus incentive will not tempt trainer Andreas Schutz and owner John Yuen Se-kit to prove it on the world stage.
It should have happened 12 months earlier, but when opportunity knocked a second time there was only one result Christophe Soumillon would accept in the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Classic Mile with his chance pick-up ride, Thumbs Up.
Gerald Mosse emerged from Sha Tin Jan. 9 with two rides for two easy wins and immediately announced that rumors of his imminent retirement are completely unfounded.
A furious Eric Saint-Martin declared Dec. 28 that he is finished in Hong Kong racing after stipendiary stewards slammed him with an improper riding charge and a two-month suspension of his license.
Egyptian Ra took the points but Good Ba Ba's Hong Kong Mile (HK-I) claims remain very much intact after a sensational ride from Felix Coetzee turned the favorite over in the HK$3 million Cathay Pacific International Mile Trial (HK-II).
Ross McDonald, trainer of brilliant Australian galloper Weekend Hussler, has announced a sweeping international agenda for the seven-time group I winner early next year in which he aims to become the first horse to tackle all four legs of the Asian Mile Challenge (AMC).
Breeders Cup Mile (gr. IT) runner-up Kip Deville will head a record American raiding party for this year's Cathay Pacific International races in Hong Kong December 14.
The Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile (HK-I) has been the long-range target for Green Birdie since early in the year, but a sizzling first-up victory against the sprinters in the Oct. 25 group III Premier Bowl at Sha Tin might have trainer Caspar Fownes reconsidering his position.
Last year's Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup (HK-I) still gives John Moore bad dreams, but in the wake of a stunning first-up win by Viva Pataca Oct. 26, it should be the opposition that suffer the nightmares in less than two months time.
Peter Ho Leung secured the first group I of his training career when Packing Winner finally turned the shadow into substance, fighting off odds-on favourite Viva Pataca to mark a memorable graduation to Hong Kong racing's elite level.
Horses held up in Australia because of equine influenza are sold in Hong Kong at another blockbuster sale in that country.
Vengeance of Rain may be retired but there will be no respite for his intended Dubai Sheema Classic opposition, with Viva Pataca's dominating victory in the HK$8 million Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2,000m) Feb. 23 proving he's ripe and ready for the world stage.
Douglas Whyte aimed for a record and stole a title in a remarkable night of action at Happy Valley Racecourse Dec. 5, with an adoring public roaring their approval for the new Cathay Pacific International Jockeys Championship hero.
Jockey Darren Beadman has warned punters to expect a "significantly more advanced" version of Stanley Ho Hung-sun's champion stayer Viva Pataca in Sunday's HK$3 million Cathay Pacific International Cup Trial (HK-II) at Sha Tin.
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