Olivier Doleuze: jockey celebrates winning the National Day Cup at Sha Tin
Packing OK provides Moore with surprise win
Report: Hong Kong, Monday
Sha Tin: The National Day Cup (Group 3), 7f, turf
JOHN MOORE signalled his intentions for another year of plundering at the elite level in Hong Kong when Packing OK, the outsider of his quartet of runners, got the better of pacesetter Aashiq in the final furlong of the National Day Cup at the Sha Tin bank holiday fixture on Monday.
Australian import Packing OK (Olivier Doleuze) had previously proven his aptitude for the class of race by winning a Group 3 earlier in the year, but that was over 1m1f and his return for the season over a distance that appeared short of his optimum resulted in the son of Redoute's Choice winning at odds of 20-1.
Having exited the inside gate, Doleuze was always tracking Aashiq on the rails and drew clear clear for a length and a half victory with the Helene Spirit (ex Arasin in France) third.
"We won and that's the main thing - I'm just a bit surprised at which one," said Moore.
"The only thing I can say is that he had won over 1,400m earlier in his career and he had trialled well coming into the race. Doleuze was quietly confident that he would run very well today. Drawing the gun gate on that course made the difference and Aashiq gave him a good tow into the race.
"That he clocked 1m 20.71s is surprising because that's a very slick time. When Doleuze got off, he said the horse might prefer the mile. We will talk to the owner and decide whether to aim at the Group 2 mile on the 28th of October. I always thought he was a horse that was a little bit better over a bit more ground but I think freshness was the key today - that and the one gate."
Another quality import of Moore's who also carried the ‘Packing' prefix of owners the Lee family, Packing Whiz, saluted impressively in the final event from the top of the weights under the guidance of in-form Australian rider Tim Clark.
Winner of the Italian 2,000 Guineas last year as Al Rep for Daniele Camuffo, like so many European imports Packing Whiz took a little while to adapt to his new regime but has now won three of his last four starts and has the potential to emerge as a major force in the months to come.
The first Group races of the new season were not quite as laden with Hong Kong's very best as in times gone by and that was the case earlier in the day when Vital Flyer (Howard Cheng) picked up a moderately-contested Sha Tin Sprint Trophy (Group 3) down the 5f straight to provide trainer Michael Chang with his first Pattern winner.
In a classic bottom-versus-top weight duel, Vital Flyer exploited his position at the foot of the handicap to defeat the highest-rated smart Captain Sweet by three-quarters of a length in a race in which only seven went to post and the even money favourite Blaze King trailed in a very disappointing last.
"I'm very happy with that," said Chang. "Before the race, I was pretty confident because he had the right weight and the straight 1,000m is what he wants. He finished fourth in a Group 1 race here before - he only carried 113lbs and he's in top form. I didn't think the others could give him that much weight."
The public holiday card will live long in the reflections of local Vincent Ho who graduated from the local apprentice ranks with his 70th career winner on Castle Hero for trainer Derek Cruz and then an hour later booted home another for his former guv'nor Caspar Fownes on The Prince.
Ho's graduation would have happened months ago but for a bad race fall in January which resulted in a broken arm and though his claim has been reduced he should still go on to further success in the future.
"There's still plenty of pressure though and I need to keep working to improve all the time," said the 22-year-old rider.
"It's important I stay disciplined, work hard and keep my fitness up. In the future I would like to have the chance to gain experience overseas, like Matthew [Chadwick] was able to do this summer."
Green Eagle (Weichong Marwing) looked the part winning the Class 3 Tianjin Handicap over 7f in the penultimate race to get trainer Me Tsui off the mark for the season. Marwing also won earlier on the programme on Breeze Of Luck for David Hall.
Elsewhere, Dennis Yip prepared two quite stylish winners via the promising Garlic Boy (Tye Angland) in Class 4 and the progressive Real Generous (Eddy Lai) in Class 3.