After a delayed start due to broken equipment, Phoenix Reach proved he was worth the wait by taking the (HK)$14 Million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase (HK-I) by a half-length over Sights on Gold, with Valle Enchantee two lengths back in third. Phoenix Reach completed the 2,400-meter distance (1 1/2 miles) in 2:29.80.
The start was delayed a few extra minutes after the bridle on Phoenix Reach broke as the field was entering the starting gate at Sha Tin Racecourse Sunday. The dozen starters were led away from the gate and circled as a replacement bridle was found for Phoenix Reach.
In a very slowly run race where Beethoven, Warrsan, and Super Kid set the early pace, Phoenix Reach settled in fifth and always traveled well before Martin Dwyer took control of the race at the top of the stretch.
Thirty-one-year-old Andrew Balding conditions Phoenix Reach, who entered the Hong Kong Vase after a good showing in the Japan Cup, for Andrew Crist's Winterbeck Manor Stud.
By Alhaath, Phoenix Reach was bred in Great Britain from the Hatim mare Carroll's Canyon.
"I really think we needed the win," said Balding, who is in his second season of training and had dreamed about six weeks earlier of Phoenix Reach wearing a replacement bridle and winning in group I company. "Phoenix Reach had a viral infection early this year. The main thought was to get him healthy for the Japan Cup. After his showing he was invited to come here. I have always said he was a group I horse."