London – As if it is not hard enough for us Brits to take being hammered by Australia in the first two Ashes cricket tests “Down Under”, we had to suffer the painful sight of Aussie ace Zac Purton riding our boys to sleep on Dominant in the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin’s big international race meeting on Sunday.
William Buick is one of the best around in Britain, and French veteran Gerald Mosse has few peers around Sha Tin where he is a regular visitor, but both jockeys left Hong Kong slightly embarrassed as Purton, leading rider at the track this season, showed them just how it should be done with a masterly performance on the locally trained outsider.
Not for the first time at Sha Tin, the races were run at a stop-start gallop, so the last place you needed to be was at the back or trapped wide, yet Buick, riding hot-favourite The Fugue on whom he had been mugged close home at the Breeders’ Cup in California last month got himself shuffled to the rear when traffic congestion ensued in the middle of the field. Mosse, though drawn in the cheap seats on globe-trotting Red Cadeaux, made precious little effort to weave his way inside.
In contrast Purton, though drawn widest of all, had nothing to lose on Dominant, who was 100-1 with some British bookies in the morning, and having switched out to get a run at the 400m pole, he sensed that there was plenty of “stacking up” in behind and showed admirable enterprise. He seized the race by the scruff the neck and readily held off the belated challenge of The Fugue, with Dunaden and Red Cadeaux right on their heels.
Trainer John Moore did not get much change out of £1 million when he bought Dominant from Newmarket trainer Roger Varian at the end of the colt’s three-year-old career but it now looks money well spent and connections were quick to nominate the Sheema Classic in Dubai in March as the first prime target for 2014.
The Fugue, who despite winning the Yorkshire Oaks and Irish Champion Stakes, has suffered an exasperating season, stays in training as a five-year-old, while Ed Dunlop, not best pleased with Mosse’s ride, plans to soldier on with Red Cadeaux, who has been a real money-spinner for the yard and will either go to Dubai or have a crack at one of the big prizes on offer at the Sydney Spring Carnival.
Another Hong Kong star who could be bound for Dubai is Cup winner Akeed Mofeed, with the 1800m Duty Free being pencilled in on World Cup night.