Sunday, December 14, 2008

HKIR Recap (Horseracing)

Another year has passed and the Hong Kong International Races have come and gone. Just a few thoughts on the results.

The Vase
Another close second for Purple Moon while Doctor Dino repeats as the Vase winner. Jaguar Mail ran pretty well and he should improve considerably from having had Kinane ride him hard in a race at this level. Packing Winner got the run of the race up front but considering how he was not anywhere near his peak he will prove to be very dangerous to Viva Pataca in the Champions and Chater again later this season.

The Sprint

While this didn't turn out to be the race of the century I was hoping for, the appearances of Apache Cat and Marchand D'or validated this race as a true global Group 1 sprint. Inspiration, the lowest rated horse in the race, came out of nowhere to take the race as a big underdog. This horse had only won a domestic class 2 earlier in the year and I don't think anyone could have predicted this victory. My pick for the race had been Green Birdie (because a quality miler coming back in distance will usually still beat a quality sprinter), who came through with a solid second placing. Apache Cat's run was hard to decipher because it looked like he ran out of gas but then picked up again towards the finish. Another hometown quinella and while Inspiration won't be crowned world's top sprinter any time soon, Hong Kong's dominance in this event has been quite amazing.

The Mile

A dominant performance by Good Ba Ba with Soumillon running a hell of a race. Knowing Good Ba Ba's tendency to ease up in the lead, he saved him till very late for one huge spurt and got clear separation from the pack in course record time. Again showing Asia's milers as being superior to those in the Western hemisphere, I'm curious how Good Ba Ba will be rated on this performance. Kip Deville did not run up to par as he clearly had trouble negotiating the right-handed turn. I wouldn't be surprised if they ranked Good Ba Ba slightly behind Goldikova, but both have an amazing turn of foot and I personally wouldn't be able to separate the two right now.

The Cup

Mike de Kock does it again, this time with Eagle Mountain. A great ride by Kevin Shea to get in front and put a bit of separation between his horse and the pack. Viva Pataca was completely blocked for a run but at this point how many more excuses can you make for the horse? Just can't seem to win the big one (best win was QEII in '07) against a true overseas field. John Moore has always given me the impression that the one thing he's really wanted to do is to take a Hong Kong horse and win the Cox Plate, but until he delivers a true global G1 win I'm not sure Stanley Ho will let him take the horse over there.

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