Good Ba Ba made history at Sha Tin on Dec. 13 when capturing a dramatic win in the HK$16 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile (HK-I) for an unprecedented third time in a row.
Under a confident ride by Olivier Doleuze, Good Ba Ba produced his trademark finishing kick to run down Happy Zero, gaining a half-length victory with Fellowship back in third, and Egyptian Ra in fourth for a Hong Kong clean sweep.
American-based Ferneley, winner of the Del Mar Mie Handicap (gr. IIT) and seventh in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) last out, finished a respectable fifth under Kieren Fallon.
Olivier Doleuze won on Good Ba Ba in 2007, while Christophe Soumillon was on board last year, before Doleuze regained the ride this time around.
Turning for home, Darren Beadman sent Happy Zero for home and opened a lead that looked for a moment to be decisive as Fellowship and Zac Purton gave chase, while the front-running Egyptian Ra battled on gamely under Felix Coetzee.
But the roar of the Hong Kong crowd reached deafening proportions as Doleuze unleashed Good Ba Ba to cut down his rivals on the outside and gallop into Hong Kong history.
“Last year I was sorry to lose the ride, so to be back on him again is like a dream. His preparation this season was similar to last year when Andreas (Schutz) trained him," Doleuze said.
“It looks like he might stay a bit longer now, now we can step him up in trip to maybe 2000 meters because it took him a little longer than normal to really get going from the top of the straight. I believed he could get there though. What a horse."
Trainer Derek Cruz trainer described the victory as the highlight of his career, “Without a doubt - it's awesome.”
Cruz took over the training of Good Ba Ba before the start of the season at the behest of owner John Yuen Se-kit and opted to prep the 7-year-old graduate of the Hong Kong International Sale along the same route of the last two seasons.
“My job was to keep him happy,” Cruz said “But the fact that he would make history if he won this race did make it harder and created pressure for me. But we've done it and it feels awesome."
Runner-up Happy Zero's rider Darren Beadman said he was delighted with his horse's performance, but paid tribute to the history-making winner.
“He had his chance. I thought we had it at the 300 meters but Good Ba Ba came past me. He's an amazing horse to do what he has done.”