It was a successful day for Japanese racing at Sunday’s Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin as Win Bright won a thrilling climax to the Longines Hong Kong Cup.
After fellow Japanese horses Glory Vase and Admire Mars had already won the Hong Kong Vase and Hong Kong Mile respectively, Yoshihiro Hatakeyama’s Win Bright held on from the fast finishing Magic Wand to land the Cup.
It was also a particularly successful meeting for jockey Joao Moreira who rode five winners, including two of the four International races on the day’s 10-race card.
Win Bright completed a superb Sha Tin double, following up his Group One QE II Cup win in April with victory in the HK$28 million ($3.6 million) Hong Kong Cup.
It meant disappointment for Ryan Moore and Magic Wand who was tucked in behind the leaders and was in the box seat most of the way. That posed problems on the home turn space became limited and the pair could never quite get the room required to get a proper shot at Win Bright. Magic Wand gave him everything and would have got to the front in another stride or two were it not for the grey five-year-old Win Bright, trained in Japan by Yoshihiro Hatakeyama, enjoying a much smoother passage than the runner-up and had enough in reserve to fend off the late surge. Joint favourite Rise High was half a length back in third.
There was similar disappointment for Moore on Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck who were well beaten by the aptly-named Glory Vase in the Longines Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin. The pair stalked favourite Exultant for much of the way on Aidan O’Brien’s charge, but found little in the straight, where strong-travelling Japanese raider Glory Vase came through with a powerful run to lead a furlong out. The Moreira-ridden four-year-old quickly put distance between himself and the rest of the field to win handsomely by three and a half lengths. Fellow Japanese runner Lucky Lilac chased the winner home for second, with Exultant third and Deirdre – winner of the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood in the summer – taking fourth under Oisin Murphy.
‘Magic Man’ Moreira timed things to perfection aboard Beat The Clock to claim the Longines Hong Kong Sprint. It looked like everything had gone to plan in the six-furlong affair for red-hot favourite Aethero who charged to the front under Zac Purton and still led a furlong out. But his stride began to shorten as the post loomed and he was swamped with 50 yards to run, with the John Size-trained Beat The Clock finishing best of all and Hot King Prawn edging Aethero for second.
A new name was etched on the Longines Hong Kong Mile trophy as Admire Mars struck another notable blow for Japan, holding on from Waikuku to initially deny Moreira a Group 1 treble. Much of the pre-race attention surrounded Beauty Generation, the winner for the last two years, and his supporters had reason to be happy as he tracked Ka Ying Star and still looked full of running two furlongs out. However, the warning signs quickly appeared with a furlong and a half to go and he was unable to resist the charge of Admire Mars under Christophe Soumillon, who in turn just had enough to hold Waikuku, with Beauty Generation having to settle for third.
Moreira’s path to his five wins started with success in the day’s opener, Jim And Tonic Handicap, as Triple Triple edged a thrilling finish. The winner came in a short head distance clear of Fantastic Show in second with Iron King the same distance back in third.
The Brazilian jockey’s second victory was equally as close fought as Beauty Applause took out the Able Friend Handicap over six furlongs. Here the margin of success was a neck from Super Wealthy in second, with Diamond Brilliant coming in third a further three-quarters of a length adrift.
After taking out the aforementioned Hong Kong Vase and Sprint in successive races, Moreira had to wait until the penultimate race of the day, the Lord Kanaloa Handicap, to wrap up his five timer. Here it was Fat Turtle who prevailed from Thanks Forever by three-quarters of a length, with Water Diviner back in third.