By Bob Kieckhefer
Military Attack burst out from behind the leaders at the top of the straight and went on to win the April 28 Audemars Piguet QE II Cup (HK-I) at Sha Tin by a convincing 1 3/4 lengths. (Video)
California Memory, winner of the last two editions of the Longines Hong Kong Cup (HK-I), provided the local team with a 1-2 finish in the fixture. Japanese runner Eishin Flash finished third and Sajjhaa, representing Godolphin Racing, got home fourth.
Hong Kong Derby winner Akeed Mofeed was a disappointment, finishing fifth, and New Zealand-bred Ambitious Dragon, two-time Hong Kong Horse of the Year, settled for sixth after being roughly cut off in mid-stretch by California Memory.
Military Attack, owned by Steven Lo Kit Sing, earned his first international group I win. He now is pointed in three weeks' time for the Singapore Airlines Singapore Cup (Sin-I), said trainer John Moore.
A 5-year-old Oratorio gelding who raced under the name Rave in Great Britain, Military Attack was partnered by Tommy Berry, a 22-year-old rider who had never set foot outside Australia before Sunday. Berry arrived in Hong Kong early that morning.
"Does it get any better?" he asked as he dismounted.
Moore said he has learned in recent runs that Military Attack does not need to be held up in big races and that prompted him to have Berry position the horse a short way behind the early leaders. After a quick run to the first corner, the race settled into a moderate pace and Military Attack was ready to attack as the field turned for home.
Swinging four-wide, Berry immediately put Military Attack toward the lead and was pulling clear at the end despite a strong run from California Memory.
"They really ran into the first corner," the rider said, "probably quicker than I expected."
Turning for home, he said, "I came out a little earlier than I wanted to."
Moore agreed that Military Attack "had to move a little early. But he showed a lot of fight."
The winner finished the 2,000 meters, or about 1 1/4 miles, in 2:02.15 over good turf, picking up his third straight victory over the Sha Tin oval.
In the supporting feature, the Sprint Cup (HK-II), longshot Rich Tapestry got the better of Go Baby Go in the final strides to win by a short head. Time After Time finished third as the two favorites, Lucky Nine and Frederick Engels, didn't fire.
Rich Tapestry, a 5-year-old Holy Roman Emperor gelding, came to challenge Go Baby Go shortly after the field turned into the straight and the two ran together to the wire. Rich Tapestry ran the 1,200 meters over good turf in 1:09.51 with Olivier Deluze aboard.
Rich Tapestry is owned by Silas Yang Siu Shun, Wong Tak Wai, Ho Chi Keung, and Cheung Yuk Tak. He is trained by Michael Chang.