An aborted plan to race in Australia earlier this season ended up benefiting Vengeance Of Rain, who on Dec. 11 won not only the group I, HK$18-million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin racecourse but also the title as champion of the World Racing Championships.
Owned by Raymond Chow and trained by David Ferraris, Vengeance Of Rain, a 5-year-old gelding by Zabeel, took over in the stretch of the 2,000-meter event and gamely held off fast-closing Pride by a nose. Anthony Delpech rode the winner, who was time in 2:04.5 on turf rated good to fast.
Heading into the Cup, Vengeance Of Rain, winner of the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup (HK-I) at Sha Tin earlier this year, was tied for fourth in the World Racing Championships standings. His win in the Cup, the final race of the series, made him the champion over Azamour.
Ferraris said quarantine regulations in Australia kept Vengeance Of Rain from competing in the Cox Plate (Aus-I), but it worked out for the best. For the time being, the gelding will remain in Hong Kong, he said.
"He is the best horse I've ever ridden, and I don't think I'll ever ride one like him again," said Delpech, who came to Hong Kong from South Africa to ride full time a few years ago. "Horses like him come around once in a blue moon."
Vengeance Of Rain earned HK$10.2 million to push his career earnings to HK$34,915,500.
Willow O Wisp faded to ninth in after leading much of the way. The Vladimir Cerin-trained sophomore returned with cuts on a leg after hitting the rail, according to reports
In the HK$14 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase (HK-I), Lord Derby's Ouija Board became the first Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships winner to win a race in Hong Kong. Trained by Edward Dunlop and ridden by Kieran Fallon, Ouija Board rallied from far back to take the 2,400-meter turf stakes in 2:28.9.
Ouija Board won the 2004 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT), and this year finished second to Intercontinental in the same race. In between, she traveled to Japan, where she finished a good fifth in the Japan Cup (Jpn-I) also at 2,400 meters.
"It was a difficult first half of the season, but all's well now," Dunlop said.
Her connections said Ouija Board would return to England, but they said they aren't sure whether the 4-year-old filly by Cape Cross
would race in 2006 or be bred.
In the other two group I events that made up the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin, Japan's Hat Trick (by Sunday Silence) won the HK$14-million Mile for owner Carrot Farm Ltd., and Hong Kong's Natural Blitz (by Maroof) won the HK$10-million Sprint for owner Lam Yin Kee.