Buick bounces back in style as quirky Pakistan Star comes good to land QEII Cup
Report: Hong Kong, Sunday
Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (Group 1) 1m2f | turf | 3yo+
William Buick went from zero to hero in 40 minutes when, after whipping in the field for the Chairman's Sprint Prize on Blue Point for the Godolphin operation that retains him, he found the key to the enigmatic Pakistan Star (Tony Cruz) with a three-length success in the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup.
A YouTube sensation in his early races, before becoming better known for his stop-start antics, Pakistan Star had been due to be ridden by Silvestre de Sousa, but he was required at Leicester on Saturday by Prince Faisal, with whom he has a retainer, while his replacement Kerrin McEvoy was ruled out from flying from Australia by an ear infection.
After riding at Sandown on Friday, Buick was in the air, with just one ride booked, when his call-up was confirmed by trainer Cruz, who revealed that Royal Ascot could be on the agenda for the German-bred five-year-old.
Pakistan Star, runner-up in the race a year ago, took up the running approaching the final furlong and raced home clear of Gold Mount, with Eagle Way third, prompting Cruz to say: "We have had so many complications but today we have been able to show the public his true ability. He's got a racing mind now and is more professional."
Buick, who was riding his first winner in Hong Kong, said: "Pakistan Star is famous for his antics, and I was aware of what he can do. I thought it was important to ride him with a fresh mind and be positive. He gave me a great feel when he quickened up the straight.
"Tony told me you can't bully him, you have to make him want to do it, so that's what I did, and we seemed to get on well."
Chief disappointment of the race was Time Warp, hot favourite to give jockey Zac Purton a clean sweep in the day's three Group 1s.
He took up his customary front-running role but was hustled by Danburite from a long way out and finished last after weakening when headed by the principals in the straight.
Purton said: "Tommy Berry [rider of Danburite] got me beat at the half-mile."
Also on Sunday
Chairman's Sprint Prize (Group 1) 6f | turf | 3yo+
Godolphin's Blue Point found out the hard way how difficult it is for European sprinters to take on Hong Kong's best on their own turf when fading into last place, as trainer John Size confirmed his position as the current speed king by saddling the first three home, headed by Ivictory (Zac Purton).
Blue Point was bustled up to the front by William Buick and shared the lead with perpetual front-runner Peniaphobia, but the writing was on the wall soon after halfway, as the Size team set out their battle lines.
Ivictory, stepping out of handicap company for the first time after four straight wins, was the first to commit and the move proved decisive. Although Mr Stunning and Beat The Clock closed in the final furlong, their stablemate had flown and he held on by half a length and three-quarters.
Disappointed but undeterred, Blue Point's trainer Charlie Appleby said: "He used up a lot of the tank in the early part of the race, but we decided we had to go forward because speed had been an asset in the earlier races. Then he ran out of puff in the straight. Still, he's pulled up fine and we live to fight another day. We'll take him back to the UK and regroup."
On the experience of taking on specialist sprinters on their own territory, he added: "If you don't try, you don't learn, and with luck we'll come back with the right horse."
Champions Mile (Group 1) 1m | turf | 3yo+
Beauty Generation continued to rescue a relatively low-key season for perennial Hong Kong champion trainer John Moore by landing his third Group 1 of the campaign, leading for much of the way, after a tardy start, under Zac Purton to beat old rival Western Express by a cosy length.
The result was a repeat of December's Hong Kong Mile, following which Beauty Generation landed the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup and should ensure the gelding, who started a shade of odds-on, takes the local mile title.
Moore, who was extending his record as the most successful trainer in the race with a seventh win, said: "If he can get his own way in front, he's a real grinder at this level. He's not like Able Friend, one of my other winners, who came flying down the outside, but he's definitely the iron horse of Hong Kong racing."
Purton, who was winning the race for the first time, added: "It wasn't the ideal start, because he didn't break as quickly as he can, but he soon took control of the race. He lengthens and then gallops, so you don't want to have to sprint from the 200-metre mark."