(Courtesy of http://www.fasttrack.hk)
The paddock area was packed today before race 9. And why not?
It was before the running of the $6 million Hong Kong Classic Cup which, apart from being a prestigious race in its own right, is seen by many as being very key in separating the men from the boys, the wheat from the chaff when it comes to- vroom vroom- the Hong Kong BMW Derby.
Favourite for the race during the paddock parade at 3s was the Richard Gibson- trained Akeed Mofeed and owned by Mr Pan So Tung who also had Gold-Fun running in the same race and the second favourite- but which crashed to become the favourite right before the start for the race.
The overnight favourite, trainer Sean Woods’ Autumn Gold, had drifted from 2s to a very juicy 9.7, discarded by Douglas Whyte, then had Ryan Moore booked for the ride but who cried off riding it because of a wrist injury and finally had Tom Quealy aboard.
In a slowly run race, the entire scenario tipped by the experts became a huge blur when the race was taken out by 100 to 1 shot It Has To Be You ridden by Tim Clark and trained by the quiet, laid-back maestro that is John Size. At those odds, do you really think there was any stable confidence? Duh!
Still, it was a brilliant ride by Clark and underlines what many have been saying for a long time: Tim Clark is one of the very best if not THE best jockey riding in Hong Kong right now.
At one part of the race, he shut the door on Tom Quealy and made the jockey of Frankel fame look positively second rate.
Second was another over 100 to 1 shot in President Lincoln and with all the Derby contenders never ever in the hunt- or perhaps taking a laid back approach and waiting for March 17 and D-Day- Derby Day.
The only horse that might have benefitted from this run would be Akeed Mofeed as Richard Gibson had predicted. I’ll have to wait and see as I now have some serious doubts about this horse.
As for the others, Garlic Boy was pulled out of the race, Autumn Gold disappointed as did Gold-Fun whereas Poetic Justice and Blazing Speed failed to inspire- or even perspire.
From being seen as dull, the HK Derby has suddenly become the most intriguing and interesting race of the season with no clearcut favourites and a great deal of “face” at stake.