Brits fail to fire as Contentment wins dramatic Champions Mile
Report: Sha Tin, Sunday
Champions Mile (Group 1) 1m | 3yo+
British hopes were quickly dashed in a dramatic Champions Mile, where Convey and Stormy Antarctic filled the last two places behind Contentment who improved on his runner-up spot a year ago. Odds-on Rapper Dragon, the Hong Kong Derby winner, broke down at halfway and suffered a fatal injury.
Although Stormy Antarctic picked up the equivalent of almost £53,000 for fifth, trainer Ed Walker summed up the experience as "a disaster" after the four-year-old pulled his way to the front under Karis Teetan at the four-furlong pole and was a spent force early in the straight.
Walker added: "He had no cover from his outside draw but then totally over-raced. It's very strange, because he was so good in his work on Friday. It's a shame because this was a real chance to land a big one, but he's fine after the race and we live to fight another day."
Wearing blinkers in a race for the first time, Stormy Antarctic was beaten four and a half lengths. Five lengths further back was the recent double Lingfield winner Convey, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, who never threatened to get beyond his finishing position of sixth in the hands of Olivier Peslier.
Stoute's partner Coral Pritchard-Gordon said: "The race didn't exactly go according to plan but it was still just a step too high in class for him, although he was probably beaten too far out for it to be his true form."
Six-year-old Contentment, who finished second to Japan's Maurice in the race last year, bounced back to form. Having managed only one placing in nine starts this season, he beat December's Hong Kong Mile winner Beauty Only by a neck, with Helene Paragon a length away third.
Jockey Brett Prebble, winning the race for the third time, said: "He hadn't peaked in his preparation but he had the blinkers on and I was told to ride him confidently. He's best with something to guide him and it probably helped when Helene Paragon went past us, because he ran on again."
Winning trainer John Size, who expects Contentment to return to Japan for a repeat run in next month's Yasuda Kinen, added: "The track was riding softer underfoot and that must have helped him."
Rapper Dragon, who started the 2-5 favourite after proving himself Hong Kong's star middle-distance four-year-old, was travelling in midfield when Joao Moreira was forced to pull up with three and a half furlongs to run.
The Albert Hung-owned Classic series winner was taken to an equine hospital but could not be saved.
The vet Dr Christopher Riggs said: "Rapper Dragon suffered a severe fracture of his pelvis which unfortunately was coupled with serios complications. Despite our intensive care in the equine hospital, we were unable to save him."
Also on Sunday
Sha Tin: Chairman's Sprint Prize (Group 1) 6f, 3yo+
Lucky Bubbles, runner-up in the race last year, followed in Contentment's footsteps in the Champions Mile by going one better to record his first Group 1 success under visiting Australian jockey Hugh Bowman.
Always consistent, with three wins and four placings in seven outings before being demoted from third in last month's Sprint Cup, Lucky Bubbles got the run of the race to beat rising star Mr Stunning by a neck. Notlistenin'tome, back to form after a flop on dirt in Dubai, was half a length back in third.
Post-work lameness earlier in the week resulted in the withdrawal of Aerovelocity, the only Hong Kong horse to have won Group 1s in three jurisdictions who now retires to a legends' park in Australia, and Dundonnell.