Blazing Speed swept around the early leaders in the stretch in the April 26 Audemars Piguet QE II Cup (HK-I) at Sha Tin Racecourse and found another gear in the final 100 meters to win by two lengths.
Japan-based Staphanos was second after altering course twice during the stretch run, while Australian representative Criterion was third. Designs On Rome was fourth in the 2,000-meter event that was clocked in 2:02.89. Neil Callan rode the winner for trainer Tony Cruz.
Blazing Speed, a 6-year-old gelding by Dylan Thomas out of the Sadler's Wells mare Leukippids, is owned by Fentons Racing Syndicate. He won two legs of the Hong Kong Triple Crown last season, and then won the Longines Jockey Club Cup at 2,000 meters in November.
While Sunday's win was Blazing Speed's first at the highest level of international competition, Callan said he acted like he was right at home.
"He jumped great and I couldn't believe I landed in my position so early," Callan said. "After that, it was just a matter of keeping him relaxed and waiting for the straight."
Cruz said he was never worried because the horse had perfect position and Callan was following instructions.
"I told Neil just to ride a very patient race," said Cruz, a six-time Hong Kong champion rider. "Just be patient. Wait for the straight. Be patient. He rode a perfect race."
Cruz said he will "see what's left locally" in the dwindling Hong Kong season. "Then we'll program for elsewhere, as well."
Staphanos came to Hong Kong with the primary credential of a victory in the Fuji Stakes (Jpn-III) last December. In his only previous start this year, he was third behind Nuovo Record in the Nakayama Kinen (Jpn-II).
The Deep Impact colt reportedly lost weight during the trip from Japan, and during the week leading up to the race he was more lightly trained than most Japanese horses tackling the Sha Tin course.
Criterion, a 4-year-old colt by Sebring, won the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Aus-I) at Royal Randwick April 11 and is targeted for Royal Ascot.
Two aging Hong Kong stars flickered dimly in the April 26 race. Military Attack, allowed to run only after a last-minute veterinary exam due to lameness issues, finished seventh. And California Memory got home ninth in the field of 12.
Globetrotting British-bred veteran Red Cadeaux beat only one horse.
In the companion Sprint Cup, a local group II, Dundonnell got a dream trip behind a fast pace from Gold-Fun, came off the rail to reel that one in with 100 meters to run, and went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Smart Volatility was third at a price, while Peniaphobia finished fourth.
Dundonnell, a 5-year-old gelding by First Defence out of the Danzig mare Family, had not won in three starts since his last victory in December. He was fourth in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup (HK-I) in his last outing, trailing the highly rated Able Friend and Gold-Fun.
In the Sprint Cup he covered 1,200 meters (about six furlongs) in 1:08.37 under Stephane Pasquier. Dundonnell is owned by Elizabeth Lee Ho Ling.
Peniaphobia was coming off a close second behind Sole Power in the Al Quoz Sprint (UAE-I) on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan.