Hong Kong Derby winner Designs On Rome outfought stablemate Military Attack for a neck victory in the Audemar Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (HK-I) April 27 at Sha Tin.
"He loves a dogfight, this horse," jockey Tommy Berry said of the winner, an Irish-bred 4-year-old gelding by Holy Roman Emperor. "I'll be surprised the day he gets beat because he never gives up."
Berry brought Designs On Rome from back in the field at the 600-meter mark and made the front in mid-stretch. The stablemates hooked up as Joao Moreira guided Military Attack off the inside fence and matched strides through the final 200 meters until Berry pulled the whip for encouragement. Designs On Rome found extra and scored the win.
Military Attack was seeking a repeat victory in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup for trainer John Moore.
"There was a little bit of a scare when Military Attack got up on the inside, but you always know I've got a little bit more left in the tank when I haven't pulled the stick through to the right hand because he finds a little bit more when I do," Berry said.
South African champion Vercingetorix was third, 2 1/4 lengths back, and Japan's Epiphaneia finished fourth after traveling wide throughout.
The final time for 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) was 2:01.06 on firm turf.
Moore notched his fourth victory in the QE II Cup, following Viva Pataca (2007 and 2010) and Military Attack last year. He will try for championship honors in Hong Kong for Designs On Rome before considering overseas options next year.
"I think he is Hong Kong's champion now," Moore said. "I think after winning that today he'd be Horse of the Year. He will go on, barring setbacks, to the Standard Chartered Champions and Chater Cup (May 25, at about 1 1/2 miles) to really seal the deal.
"Of course, he hasn't traveled yet, he still has to do it offshore, but what he's done so far is show that he's very talented. He's going to mix it with the very best. I know the owner (Cheng Keung Fai) is very keen to go to Dubai next year on the turf. He's keen to go and prove the horse's ability, so I'm looking forward to that, but let's take it race by race."
Designs On Rome has a 6-4-1 career line from 13 starts that include a runner-up finish as a 2-year-old in the 2012 Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes (Ire-I) at the Curragh. Prior to winning the Hong Kong Derby over Able Friend March 16, he defeated that same rival in the Hong Kong Classic Cup a month earlier.
Moyglare Stud bred Designs On Rome out of the Alleged mare Summer Trysting, who also produced English multiple group III winner Sights On Gold, runner-up in the 2004 Hong Kong Vase (HK-I), and Simple Exchange, winner of the 2004 American Derby (gr. IIT).