Designs On Rome outguns stablemate Able Friend in Sunday's big race
Designs On Rome
dazzles in Derby thriller
Report: Hong Kong, Sunday
Sha Tin: BMW Hong Kong Derby (HK Group 1) 1m2f, turf, 4yo
SUPERIOR stamina and an abundance of class swayed an absorbing BMW Hong Kong Derby in favour of Designs On Rome (John Moore/Tommy Berry) on Sunday.
Formerly trained by Pat Flynn and runner-up to Dawn Approach in the Vincent O'Brien National Stakes at the Curragh in 2012, Designs On Rome held off stablemate Able Friend by half a length in the season's domestic showpiece.
The Moore-trained pair finished in the same order in last month's Classic Cup and headed the betting at 9-10 (Designs On Rome) and 11-8 (Able Friend).
Another Irish import, Dibayani, was next in the betting at 13-1 and he finished third, well clear of the rest of the field.
Berry was full of praise for the Holy Roman Emperor gelding and said: "It was a special win from a very special horse. Not many horses can do what he did out there.
"The pace wasn't quick and I was happy to take my time out the back and pick him up well before the turn. We got to the lead and then we were challenged by Joao Moreira on Able Friend at the 100m. I had to ask for everything and he responded again.
"He really pinned his ears back and wanted to win. I had to ask him three times for a big effort and he answered each time."
Designs On Rome will go for the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup on April 27 next, while the Singapore Airlines International Cup in May is also an option.
Able Friend, who had to prove his stamina, could drop back in trip for the Champions Mile on May 4.
"Both my fellas have got international Group 1 written all over them and I'm really looking forward to taking them onto the world stage," said Moore, who was winning his fourth Derby.
"Tommy is trying to persuade me to run Designs On Rome in the Cox Plate in Melbourne so we can consider all options. It's very exciting."
The 14-runner field included eight previously raced imports, five of those hailing from Europe.
Beauty Flame, known as Roca Tumu when a winner at Royal Ascot last year, finished eighth, one place in front of Travel Brother, formerly Van Der Neer, third in the 2,000 Guineas. French import Tableaux finished 11th.
Douglas Whyte guides Gold-Fun to a comfortable victory at Sha Tin
Also on Sunday
Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup (HK Group 1) 7f, turf, 3yo+
GOLD-FUN (Richard Gibson/Douglas Whyte) staked a claim for Horse of the Year honours thanks to a comfortable success in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup.
The final leg of the Hong Kong Speed Series attracted a strong field and although the official margin of victory was just half a length, jockey Whyte eased the favourite down on the run to the line.
The first five home were previously trained in Britain and Ireland with the consistent Dan Excel a game second despite enduring a wide passage throughout.
"It was a great training effort by Richard to give him a break but still get enough work into him to win a Group 1," Whyte said.
"I knew he had them covered 600m out and it was a pretty effortless win. He did it with great authority."
Gold-Fun began his career with Ger Lyons and was second in the Longines Hong Kong Mile in December only to come up short in the Stewards' Cup a month later.
The decision then to freshen up the son of Le Vie Dei Colori paid off in style.
The Champions Mile, open to international competition on May 4, will likely be Gold-Fun's next race and a victory in that would boost his chances of being named Horse of the Year.
"He had a great beginning to the season and we targeted this race. He beat some champion horses today," Gibson said.
"He's the most consistent Group 1 horse in Hong Kong, he's a candidate for Horse of the Year and I'm very lucky to have him in my stable."