Akeed Mofeed (right) got the better of a three-way finish in the DerbyPICTURE: Hong Kong Jockey Club
Akeed Mofeed victorious in Derby for Gibson
Report: Hong Kong, Sunday
Sha Tin: BMW Hong Kong Derby (Group 1) 1m2f, turf, 4yo
AKEED MOFEED (Richard Gibson/Doug Whyte) fulfilled all expectations with a Derby victory on Sunday that connections believe serves as a prelude to a very successful career in his new home.
Bought last year by owner Pan Sutong from the John Oxx stable for a figure widely reported locally to be in the region of
$2 million, the Dubawi entire paid back a hefty chunk of the investment in the world's second richest Derby worth £1.36 million.
At the end of a stop-start race, Akeed Mofeed, the 8-11 favourite, finished strongest in the straight having been midfield before the home turn to defeat outsider Endowing, formerly trained by Richard Hannon, by half a length.
The winner's stablemate and 9-2 second favourite, Gold-Fun, previously with Ger Lyons and also in the same ownership, ran a close third.
French import Rainbow Chic finished fourth and might well have placed had he seen more daylight in the stretch. With Poetic Justice running fifth ahead of Autumn Gold, the first six past the post were all previously trained in Europe. Another Irish import, Mizani, also trained by Gibson, was a late withdrawal owing to lameness.
"I was very confident before the pace steadied up at around the 1200m [six furlong marker] and he was checked. I had to peel off heels and it got a bit messy," said jockey Whyte, winning the race for the third time in the four years.
Doug Whyte: travelled nicelyPICTURE: Edward Whitaker
"But then we managed to get some cover, he travelled nicely again and he picked up really well in the straight. He was the best horse on the day. I hadn't really got to the bottom of him - he was only just finding the line so it was a good effort. I think had it been a genuinely run race we would have seen a prettier win at the end."
Trainer Gibson, in his second season at Sha Tin since moving from Chantilly in 2011, said he had an open mind about Akeed Mofeed's future objectives.
"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," he said.
"When they're this good you can have any plan you want. It's a great relief to get these two excellent athletes to the races in good shape, allowing them to perform to their natural ability. I don't think the race was ideal for Gold-Fun but he's a talented horse too and it was an excellent effort to get third."