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Archipenko gives De Kock more Audemars Piguet QEII Cup glory

27 April 2008

Archipenko produced an unstoppable stretch run under Kevin Shea to mow down some of the world's best in the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup at Sha Tin this afternoon.

The South African-trained raider had a comfortable length and three-quarters to spare over French-trained outsider Balius with Hong Kong star Viva Pataca eclipsed in third.

Mike de Kock is becoming an increasingly familiar figure at Hong Kong's International meetings - he won his race two years ago with Irridescence, but despite well-reported confidence from the trainer this week it was Viva Pataca that dominated the betting and Archipenko rewarded his supporters of a return of almost 14-1.

The four-year-old winner had only raced 11 times before today and had only joined De Kock's yard in December but, after an unlucky third in the Dubai Duty Free, he has now stamped himself a serious player on the world stage, something confirmed by the time of today's race, a super-swift 2 minutes 0.8 seconds.

As predicted, the New Zealander Sir Slick went for the early lead, but he had to battle for that position with Viva Macau. Turning into the stretch there were a whole clutch of chances but in the final furlong all the attention focused on the surging Archipenko, with the late charge of Balius, adding to the terrific afternoon of Olivier Doleuze following Good Ba Ba's win, grabbing second place off Viva Pataca late on.

"I know it might sound crazy after winning a Group 1 race, but I think he is still improving and he can go and win another one. We'll be thinking about him in terms of Royal Ascot but I'm not sure what race we will target there yet," winning trainer De Kock said.

"We haven't had the horse very long and he has needed to fill out. He settled in well at our stables in Dubai and I guess a change is as good as a holiday in many respects. I'm hoping he can continue on this upward spiral because he is still improving both mentally and physically."

Reflecting on how the race was won, jockey Shea said: "He settled nicely and it suited him having no horse on his outside. He prefers to have some daylight. When I pulled him out in the straight I gave him a couple of cracks and I knew that it would take a special one to beat us.

"I would agree with what Mike says about this horse being able to go and win another major race like this. He's more mature and more muscled and he seems to have settled better with the blinkers on him."

Darren Beadman put Viva Pataca's defeat down to a poor start from his difficult gate, but a bigger disappointment was Derby winner Helene Mascot, who left Felix Coetzee slightly baffled that the horse simply did not find the same scintillating acceleration as he had done in March.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club's Chief Executive Officer Mr Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges concluded the day a successful one and applauded sponsors Audemars Piguet for their tenth year supporting this very prestigious international event.

Attendance at the Sha Tin Racecourse rose by 13 per cent over the corresponding figure last year to 48,459 and betting turnover increased by HK$5m, from HK$938.4m  a year ago to HK$943.1m.

Related Website: Audemars Piguet QE II Cup 2008

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