Rulership (Umberto Rispoli) wins the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup at Sha TinPICTURE: Hong Kong Jockey Club
Rulership on top in QEII Cup as Beach fails to fire
Report: Hong Kong, Sunday
Sha Tin: Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (Group 1) 1m2f, turf, 3yo+
JAPANESE raider Rulership (Katsuhiko Sumii/Umberto Rispoli) thoroughly outclassed what had seemed a strong line-up for Hong Kong’s traditional springtime showpiece, the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday.
It’s not often that the winner of an international Group 1 race at this distance in Hong Kong can be named with well over a furlong to race, but this was plainly case as former Italian champion Rispoli saluted the crowd when nearly four lengths clear at the line.
On this evidence, the wonder was that it has taken the five-year-old so long to break through for his maiden Group 1, but connections suggested it might not be the last time he travels across the East China Sea in search of a major prize.
This was Japan’s first winner at Sha Tin since Hat Trick won the Hong Kong Mile in 2005 for Rulership’s trainer who has achieved widespread fame outside his homeland by winning the Dubai World Cup with Victoire Pisa and preparing the first two home in a Melbourne Cup through Delta Blues and Pop Rock.
Credit should also go to jockey Rispoli who rode a copybook race from gate number eight, settling in behind the leader Fay Fay. As anticipated, the pace was muddling and Rulership was able to gain a rails run as last month’s Hong Kong Derby winner Fay Fay hung out at the entrance to the straight.
Rulership, the 9-2 joint second favourite, shot three lengths clear inan instant and clocked the fastest individual sectional home in 21.81 seconds to render any meaningful pursuit futile.
Thumbs Up ran second as he also did behind Dunaden in the Hong Kong Vase in December, justin front of the 2-1 favourite Sweet Orange.
“It was a very special win and it is great to win in Hong Kong again,” Sumii declared.
“The horse clearly likes it in Hong Kong as much as I do! He was very relaxed here all week and I think he might try for a race like the Hong Kong Cup at the same distance in December. We might look at the Takarazuka Kinen back home in June as his next race.”
Rispoli, 23, called time on his first Hong Kong in the perfect manner having recently decided to move to France and this was the sixth winner of his short stint and it capped a double on the day.
“I’m very excited. It’s like a dream to leave Hong Kong in such a nice way and with another Group 1 win in another country. I want to come back here, maybe in October, but I first have work to do in France,” he said.
“The race went perfectly. Rulership used to pull when I rode him in Japan last year but he is more settled now and the slow pace was not a problem. Fay Fay came off the rail before the turn and I took the gap and he finished very strongly. He’s a class horse.”
Aidan O’Brien’s Irish Derby winner of last year, Treasure Beach, had raced prominently and ought to have been suited by how therace panned out, but he found precious little in the straight.
“That was very disappointing, he just didn’t fire,” jockey Jamie Spencer said.
Ryan Moore said of the French raider Chinchon: “He ran well but he just couldn’t get into the race, they were too strong for him.”