It Has To Be You posts shock win in Hong Kong Classic CupPICTURE: Hong Kong Jockey Club
It Has To Be You stuns Sha Tin crowd with win
Report: Hong Kong, Sunday
The Hong Kong Classic Cup (Group 1) 1m 1f, turf, 4yo
IN ONE of the biggest Group 1 shocks in recent times - if not of all time, locally at least - rank outsiders It Has To Be You (John Size/Tim Clark) and President Lincoln came home first and second in the Hong Kong Classic Cup before a dumbstruck Sha Tin crowd on Sunday.
Highly-rated European imports dominated most of the talk in the lead-up to the final major trial for next month's BMW Hong Kong Derby, but it was two unheralded former New Zealand-trained handicappers which sprang a colossal upset.
It Has To Be You, who paid 125-1 on the local tote, sneaked up the inside to defeat the fast finishing President Lincoln, a 127-1 chance, by three-quarters of a length. French import Ashkiyr ran third for trainer John Moore.
Race favourite Gold-Fun, winner of the HK Classic Mile on his previous outing for trainer Richard Gibson, finished a creditable fourth from an awkward barrier with his stable companion Akeed Mofeed in sixth despite not being deemed 100 per cent ready for the race.
In what looks like being a wide open Classic, both horses still seem live contenders for the main event on March 17. Then again, so do a few others.
"It Has To Be You's form hasn't been too bad and the other day in the Classic Mile he was the last horse standing of the horses up on the speed, going a pretty good gallop," said Australian jockey Clark, enjoying his first Group 1 victory in Hong Kong.
"All the horses that passed him that day came from back in the field. Today, from a good gate we were able to travel smoother on a slower pace and he showed a really good turn of foot."
"There's not a lot separating the horses and the barrier plays a role. Today I was fortunate to draw a low gate and have a lovely run. My horse really attacked the gap when it came and put the race beyond doubt pretty quickly."
Multiple champion trainer Size won his first Derby last season with Fay Fay and has no doubts whatsoever that It has To Be You will see the trip out in four weeks.
"I think he'll run further than ten furlongs, we just don't have the races to try it," he said.
"In track-work he bowls around the track like he'd go two laps so we have no doubts about the distance - it's just a matter of getting up to the distance that will let him show his prowess as a racehorse and I think this distance of nine furlongs is the beginning of that.
"He's done nothing wrong since he's been in Hong Kong - he's been progressive every step of the way. The tempo didn't suit him last start and today he got more comfortable and was able to sprint in the finish."