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Hong Kong Derby



Akeed Mofeed wins the Hong Kong Derby
Akeed Mofeed wins the Hong Kong Derby

Click above to watch Akeed Mofeed winning the Hong Kong Derby (Group 1)

(Image : SCMP - Footage : HKJC)


Sha Tin, Turf, 2000m

17 March 2013

Racing in the colors of Jaber Abdullah in Europe under the care of trainer John Oxx, Akeed Mofeed (GB) (Dubawi - Wonder Why) broke his maiden at second asking by five lengths at Leopardstown and was beaten into second as the odds-on favorite in the Group 2 Beresford Stakes over heavy ground at The Curragh and called it a season. He was set a nearly impossible task in his 3-year-old debut when facing Camelot (GB) (Montjeu) in the Group 1 Irish Derby last June, and could do no better than fourth of five, but bounced back with an authoritative victory in the Listed Platinum Stakes at Cork in what would be his final European appearance last August.

Akeed Mofeed was given plenty of time to acclimate and made his Hong Kong debut on a domestic rating of 89, effectively assured of a Derby berth with the expected improvement. But very little went as planned in a Class 2 Handicap over 1400 meters on 12 January, when Olivier Doleuze rolled the dice up the fence and got shut off, but Akeed Mofeed was able to re-rally for third, while Doleuze offered a mea culpa and was reprimanded by stewards.

Connections pressed on to the second leg of the 4-year-old series, the 1800-meter Hong Kong Classic Cup on 17 February, and a meeting with stablemate Gold-Fun, who was exiting a handy win in the Hong Kong Classic Mile on 20 January. Ultimately sent off the second favorite to his barnmate, Akeed Mofeed was well back in a moderately run race and got home very well over the final 400 meters, but finished sixth, beaten just under two lengths.

Enter Douglas Whyte, who had ridden Gold-Fun in the Classic Mile and Classic Cup. The ‘Durban Demon took the call for a Class 2 handicap over nine panels on 2 March, one final confidence builder for Akeed Mofeed, and his 2 1/2-length victory at 90 cents on the dollar was accomplished with a minimum of fuss and would earn him a quote even smaller for the Derby.

Ideally drawn in three with a short run to the first turn, Akeed Mofeed tucked in just behind the leading foursome in fifth, as Gold-Fun was a bit wide out of the straight. But things got interesting for the Richard Gibson runners as the race reached its halfway point. Gold-Fun began to toss his head while racing in third, and Akeed Mofeed followed suit, causing Whyte to take a hold of him, resulting in him being shuffled back a few spots. Both Gold-Fun and Akeed Mofeed raced three wide on the turn, one in front of the other, and both appeared loaded as they reached the stretch. Gold-Fun made the first move and took over from the weakening pacesetters a furlong and a half from home, but Whyte made a simultaneous move aboard Akeed Mofeed and had him in the crosshairs, grabbed him with 100 meters to race and edged clear. Endowing enjoyed the run of the race on the fence and was just able to touch Gold-Fun out of second.

“I came out the gates beautiful, but they slowed it right down around the 1300 meters mark and I was in all sorts of bother,” said Whyte, winning his third Hong Kong Derby in four years (Super Satin in 2010 and Fay Fay in 2012). “I had a long rein and I had him galloping beautifully, so when I had to come back on his mouth, I didn’t have a short enough rein to get him back - I had to peel off heels and it got a bit messy.”

Vengeance of Rain (NZ) and Ambitious Dragon (NZ) successfully followed up their Derby wins in the Group 1 Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup. That April 28 race could beckon for Akeed Mofeed.

“The next stage is to see if he can beat the very best of Hong Kong and that’s a massive challenge, so we’ll see how he takes the race and look at it in a couple of weeks,” Gibson said. “When they’re this good you can have any plan you want in your mind, it’s about forming the right plan at the right time with the owner.”

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News




Fay Fay wins the Hong Kong Derby at Sha Tin
Fay Fay wins the Hong Kong Derby at Sha Tin

Click above to watch Fay Fay winning the Hong Kong Derby (G1)…

(Image : RacingB : Footage : HKJC)


Sha Tin, Turf, 2000m

18 March 2012

In the end, it was Fay Fay (NZ) (Falkirk) who had the “Whyte Stuff” to win the Mercedez-Benz Hong Kong Derby in front of a 53,000-strong Sha Tin crowd Sunday.

Hong Kong’s perennial leading jockey Dougie Whyte, trainer John Size and owner Alexander Wong were handed a near death sentence with the 14 hole at Thursday’s barrier draw, but the ‘Durban Demon’ pulled a rabbit out of the hat to land the Derby for the second year in a row (Ambitious Dragon in 2011).

Fay Fay was a handy winner of Class 2 handicaps December 11 and January 1, earning him a quote of 1-2 for the Hong Kong Classic Mile January 25. He came to win that race following a three-wide trip, but was run down late by the upstart Sweet Orange (USA) (War Front). The bay had some traffic trouble in the middle stages of the Hong Kong Classic Cup Febraury 19, but was essentially excuse-free from there and settled for fourth, two lengths adrift of Zaidan (USA) (Street Cry). That somewhat subpar effort sprinkled with a wide alley, left Fay Fay without a friend in the overnight betting for the Derby, but he firmed to be the third choice at post time.

Away well enough, Whyte pushed the button early and allowed his mount to go up to be a forward factor as Bullish Champion (Ire) (Exceed and Excel) tried to put them to sleep up front. With his chief rivals further behind and with the race being run at a moderate tempo, Fay Fay was always going to get first crack and did so while three wide at the head of the lane. Zaidan, also fairly handy in the running, edged to the front with about a furlong to race, but Fay Fay engaged him soon after and stayed on, as Same World (GB) (Hawk Wing) lunged late. Sweet Orange found himself with plenty of work to do on the turn, was in very tight in the stretch and may have won the race had the wire come a few strides later.

“It’s always nice to win a big race and in Hong Kong the big race to win is the Derby,” said Size, winning the event for the first time. “Fay Fay won a race very early as a 2-year-old, which is probably a bit unusual for a Derby winner. Through injury, he had more than 12 months off the track through his 3-year-old year, but that has probably stood him in good stead as I’ve been able to step him up at his leisure and he made steady progress to the point that he got into the Group 1 races.”

The winner could go next in the G1 Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup over this track and distance April 29.

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News




Ambitious Dragon wins the Hong Kong Derby for trainer Tony Millard
Ambitious Dragon wins the Hong Kong Derby for trainer Tony Millard

Click above to watch Ambitious Dragon winning the Hong Kong Derby

(Photo and Footage : HKJC)


Sha Tin, Turf, 2000m

20 March 2011

Ambitious Dragon, a son of Waikato Stud’s Pins (Snippets) and trained by Tony Millard for owner Johnson Lam Pui Hung, delivered  exactly what his fans have come to expect of him when coming with a strong late run to overpower the leaders and win the HK$16 million Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby (HK Gr 1, 2000m) at Sha Tin Sunday.

The John Moore-trainedXtension (Xaar) was gallant in defeat, keeping on well for second three quarters of a length behind the winner, with Let Me Handle It (High Chaparral), trained by Caspar Fownes almost four more lengths behind in third and another John Moore horse, Jacobee, a full six lengths behind the winner in fourth.

Although the winning margin was less than a length Ambitious Dragon always seemed to have the measure of the runner-up in the last 200m and with such a long gap back to the remainder of his rivals he gave the distinct impression in this, his fourth consecutive victory and his second Hong Kong Group 1 event, that he may be a Derby winner of unusual quality.

It can hardly be called a triumph without problem as jockey Maxime Guyon had to find a way to victory from the outside gate, but the Frenchman accomplished his task without any sign of panic.

Speaking through an interpreter, Guyon, who had flown in overnight from France for the race, said, “I am very, very happy, he was a big favourite but he did everything I asked. I am so happy with him and so full of confidence too for future races. I only had to whip him once and I think he is sure to be an international Group 1 horse of the future.”

“I didn’t worry about the draw,” said a jubilant Millard afterwards, although no horse had won the Derby from barrier 14 since the race distance was changed to 2000m at the start of the millennium. “I just worried about the horse. But after the draw I went to look at him and he looked so well I had no doubts. You get a horse like this just once or twice in a lifetime and I just feel lucky to have him. Maxime rode him an absolute treat. At one point he was blocked too, but the horse was good enough in spite of that. He’s one of those you just dream about.”

“It’s been a tough time,” added the South African, referring to the stable’s shortage of big race success since his previous 2000 Derby winner Keen Winner (Selkirk), a horse he rates much inferior to today’s victor. “We’ve had a long time in the wilderness, and I just hope people will start believing in us now as we’ve always believed in ourselves.”

Millard was keen to share the credit with his staff. “Particularly Carol Yu who is a very, very good assistant trainer and is 110 per cent dedicated. Ambitious Dragon will definitely go for the (Audemars Piguet) QE II Cup on 1 May now and after that he’ll have a spell. He’s earned it, hasn’t he, not many horses progress from Class 4 to win the Derby, but he’s done that.”

Not only has he done that, but he’s become the first horse in Hong Kong to score six times this season. If he now goes on to further triumph in the APQEII Cup (Gr 1, 2000m), he will have equaled the Hong Kong seasonal record of seven victories set last year by Entrapment (Halo Homewrecker).

A crowd of 46,566 attended, an increase of almost 7,000 on attendance for the same event in 2010.

Extract from ANZ Bloodstock News