Monday 19 March 2018

Ryan Moore steers Aidan O'Brien's Highland Reel to Hong Kong Vase glory

Ryan Moore (L) riding Highland Reel gestures after winning the Longines Hong Kong Vase race at Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong
Ryan Moore (L) riding Highland Reel gestures after winning the Longines Hong Kong Vase race at Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong

Neil Morrice

Aidan O'Brien's Highland Reel saw off defending champion Flintshire to land the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin.

Winner of the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park this summer before finishing fifth in the Irish Champion Stakes, Highland Reel was last seen placing third in Australia's Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.

After a smart start, the three-year-old was allowed to bowl along at the head of affairs by Ryan Moore, before being passed in the back straight by outsider Harbour Master and Corine Barande-Barbe's stable star Cirrus Des Aigles.

Andre Fabre's Flintshire quickened up well to grab the lead in the straight, but Highland Reel came back tenaciously in the final furlong and was well on top at the line.

Dariyan was third for Alain de Royer-Dupre, with another French challenger, the Mikel Delzangles-trained Ming Dynasty, fourth.

Cirrus Des Aigles weakened out of contention, while Sir Michael Stoute's Cannock Chase never threatened to land a telling blow.

Moore said: "If I'd been left alone he'd have won very easy. He's turned into a very good horse.

"He's had a hard schedule, but he keeps getting better. He's improved immensely since the start of the year.

"He saw the trip out extremely well. When Flintshire came by him I thought I was in trouble, but this lad really dug in.

"He's plenty of class and the way he's improved through the year is quite something."

Meanwhile, Sole Power finished down the field as Peniaphobia made every yard of the running in the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin.

Winner of the 2013 Weatherbys Super Sprint for Richard Fahey before being sold to race in the Far East, Peniaphobia has established himself as one of Hong Kong's leading sprinters.

Now trained by Tony Cruz, the four-year-old was quickly taken to the front by Joao Moreira from his wide draw and galloped all the way to the line to claim an impressive victory in the six-furlong Group One, beating hot favourite Gold-Fun into second.

Eddie Lynam's multiple Group One winner and Irish raider Sole Power was held up by Chris Hayes, but was unable to pick up in the straight and ultimately finished well-beaten.

Elsewhere, Dermot Weld's Free Eagle was bitterly disappointing as A Shin Hikari produced a brilliant front-running display to claim the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup.

Winner of the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot before finishing third in the Irish Champion Stakes and sixth in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Free Eagle looked a major contender on what was set to be his final start before retirement.

Pat Smullen looked to have the Moyglare Stud-owned four-year-old ideally positioned for much of the 10-furlong journey, sitting in a handy third as A Shin Hikari set the fractions.

The Irish challenger looked poised to strike rounding the home turn, but found disappointingly little when coming under pressure and weakened dramatically to finish last but one.

While Free Eagle faltered, A Shin Hikari remarkably quickened further clear of his toiling rivals for a comprehensive victory in the hands of a jubilant Yutaka Take.

Nuovo Record was best of the rest in second under Ryan Moore, with Blazing Speed third.

Press Association

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