International star Falbrav bid an end to his race career Sunday afternoon before a cheering throng of 59,000 at Sha Tin Racecourse. The reason for the cheers was an impressive two-length victory in the HK$18 million Hong Kong Cup (HK-I) at 2,000 meters (1 1/4 miles).
The heavy favorite beat second choice Ratki to the line in 2:00.9 under Frankie Dettori. Rakti was 31/4-lengths ahead of third-place finisher Elegant Fashion.
Dettori delivered his patented flying dismount while feeling none of the ill effects of the twisted ankle he sustained Wednesday night at Happy Valley Racecourse during the International Jockeys' Championships.
Falbrav, now the winner of eight group I stakes, was making his 10th start of the year, all against grade/group I competition. In his prior start, the son of Fairy King out of the Slewpy mare Gift of the Night was just a head behind High Chaparral and Johar in the 12-furlong John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) on Oct. 25.
Falbrav is owned by Luciano Salice's Scuderia Rencanti of Italy and Terry Yoshida of Japan. The Yoshida family purchased into the horse recently and he will stand at their Shadai Stallion Station in Japan.
Falbrav was covered up early and well off the pace set by Weightless. Weightless set early splits of :25.7 and :49.7 while being pressed by Self Fit. Dano-Mast tracked in third. Turning for home, it looked as if Falbrav had plenty to do and would have to bob and weave through traffic, but Dettori got him a clear run and he blew the field away. The final 200 meters were run in :23.1.
"This is one of his best victories," winning trainer Luca Cumani said. "It's difficult to travel and keep in top-class form. I wanted him to go out on a high note. He's raced 10 times this year and he's always come back well. After the trip to America it took a little longer but he was back in a few weeks."
Falbrav has now won 13 of 26 career starts. He has five seconds and five thirds.
"All I had to do was press the button," Dettori said. "He was fantastic. He's up there with the very best I've been on in my life. He was electric. He just flew."
Precision, last year's 64-1 winner, finished eighth. Denon, the lone American representative, ran ninth.