Highland Reel gilds the lily as he enters stallion service for Coolmore
Already impeccable credentials burnished by Sha Tin victory
As if there were not already enough reasons for breeders to flock to Highland Reel when he starts covering mares at Coolmore next year, the admirable globe-trotter provided another persuader by signing off his glittering racing career with a smooth success in the Hong Kong Vase on Sunday.
Since Highland Reel's recruitment to the Coolmore roster was announced in October, he has finished a close third to Talismanic in the Breeders' Cup Turf and has now turned the tables on that rival by beating him a length and three quarters in the Longines-sponsored event over 12 furlongs.
That brings the Aidan O'Brien-trained five-year-old's racing record to ten wins and nine other placings from 27 starts.
A decisive winner of the Vintage Stakes at two, he went on to notch seven top-level victories across three continents: in the Hong Kong Vase twice and in the Secretariat Stakes, King George, Breeders' Cup Turf, Coronation Cup and Prince of Wales's Stakes.
He also retires with a further seven Group/Grade 1 placings, notably when touched off by Satono Crown in his second attempt at the Hong Kong Vase, and runner-up spots in the Prix du Jockey Club and Arc.
Those outstanding efforts make him the highest earning horse ever trained in Europe, with prize-money of £7,513,355.
O'Brien paid tribute to his charge as he bows out to start his second career for his owner and breeder, the Coolmore patrners.
"He's a very special horse; irreplaceable, really," he said. "It's very rare that you get a horse that can travel like him. He's been doing it since he was a two-year-old - he won the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood as a two-year-old and he's travelled the world in the meantime, so an incredible horse, really.
"He's irreplaceable for us at home but we were lucky to hold on to him as a five-year-old, we were lucky to get another year out of him."
As well as boasting the key qualities of precocity, brilliant class and durability, Highland Reel also has a pedigree that entitles him to excel at stud.
A son of Coolmore phenomenon Galileo, he is a brother to Group 2 winner and Irish Derby runner-up Idaho and a half-brother to Valdemoro, twice Group 1-placed in Australia.
Their dam Hveger was runner-up in the South Australia Oaks and third in the Crown Oaks, and she is by Danehill, meaning Highland Reel is bred on the same cross as has produced successful sires Frankel and Teofilo among numerous top-class horses.
Hveger is a sister to Australian champion Elvstroem and a half-sister to Queen Anne Stakes winner Haradasun.
This is a deep Australian family, as Hveger is out of AJC Oaks heroine and Caulfield Cup runner-up Circles Of Gold, who is in turn a half-sister to the granddam of champion sprinter and excellent sire Starspangledbanner.
All of which makes Highland Reel's introductory covering fee of €17,500 at Coolmore in 2018 look good value.