Olivier Doleuze celebrates victory aboard Eagle RegimentPICTURE: Hong Kong Jockey Club
Eagle soars to Centenary Sprint Cup victory
Report: Hong Kong, Sunday
Sha Tin: The Kent & Curwen Centenary Sprint Cup (HKGr.1) 5f, turf, 3yo+
EAGLE REGIMENT (Manfred Man/Olivier Doleuze) made light of almost a year's absence from the track to impressively defend the Centenary Sprint Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday.
A repeat victory in the first leg of the Hong Kong Speed Series meant Eagle Regiment joined local legends such as Silent Witness and Sacred Kingdom with back-to-back wins in the race.
However, this latest achievement must be ranked higher than last year's success given how long the Australian-bred had been off the scene.
Eagle Regiment last raced competitively one week short of a year ago and was withdrawn on the morning of the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai owing to lameness. A tendon strain in August exacerbated matters leaving trainer Man with no option other than to target this race fresh with his straight 5f specialist.
Doleuze always had his mount prominent and put a break on the field before the furlong marker before staying on well to record a length-and-a-half victory from British import Frederick Engels.
The latter could have made the outcome less clear-cut had he not been badly checked exiting the stalls, shuffling him back to the tail of the field and his final sectional was by far the quickest.
"I'm very happy," said trainer Manfred Man, who was celebrating his 300th career victory.
"I was confident, given his form in the mornings, that he would have a good chance but almost one year off was another problem."
A delighted Doleuze added: "I'm more than happy. I've ridden some very good horses in France but he's one of the tops. The major part with this horse is not the race it's to make him jump out of the gates. After that it's so easy because a quality horse like that travels then is able to kick at the right time and maintain his acceleration."
The Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night will be the next port of call for the winner where could well be joined by Frederick Engels, trained by John Moore. The same race has also been pencilled-in for hardy veteran Joy And Fun although he could only finish in midfield here.
All being well, connections said they will strongly consider the King's Stand Stakes for Eagle Regiment, a race that was won last year by another Hong Kong horse in Little Bridge.