Hong Kong notched its first win in the G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1200m) when Aerovelocity passed the test on a wet track to claim this top-class sprinting event at Chukyo racecourse, Japan today.
Less than 24 hours earlier, Hong Kong horses had a mixed bag of success at the Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan with two of its seven runners finishing second. But the Paul O’Sullivan-trained LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint winner put the smiles back on Hong Kong faces when he sneaked between two runners near the post to win his second Group 1 title.
“I’ve trained a lot of good horses in my career but he is possibly the greatest horse I have ever trained,” O’Sullivan said.
With persistent rain in the Nagoya area this morning, Chukyo’s turf track condition changed from good to yielding midway through today’s race meeting. The rain-affected track posed a challenge to Aerovelocity, who was untested on anything softer than good in his past 16 career starts.
But he passed this test with flying colours. Having jumped fast from the gates, race rider Zac Purton had the Pins gelding stalking pacesetters Am Ball Bleiben and Hakusan Moon in the early stages. He appeared to be struggling a bit on the relatively muddy part of the track two wide off the fence on entering the home straight. But as Purton gradually moved his mount to the centre part of the track, and rounded the leader Hakusan Moon to gallop on better ground, the horse was able to kick on and to win on the wire, clocking 1m 8.5s. Hakusan Moon held on second, half a length behind Aerovelocity, with Mikki Isle third, a nose further back.
O’Sullivan was extremely satisfied with his horse’s performance, particularly the manner in which he did it. “It’s his trademark fashion as he fought for it. He’s a very courageous horse. I don't think there are many horses can do what he did,” he said.
Purton’s previous major achievement in Japan was his win in the World Super Jockeys Series in 2012. This is his first G1 success in Japan and it adds to his other important wins overseas including the King’s Stand Stakes in the UK with Little Bridge in 2012 and the SIA Cup in Singapore atop Military Attack in 2013.
He praised his horse’s strong will to win, especially under such a demanding track condition.
“Obviously I was a bit concerned about the rain, but the track was not that bad. It was a new experience for him,” he said. “As we entered the home straight, he appeared to have lost his footing, lost a bit of his momentum. I thought the race was all over. I continued to ride and he started to regain his balance. The gallop was a little bit better. We moved to the better part of the track and he was comfortable with it again, and able to bounce back.”
After his sensational victory in this third leg of Global Sprint Challenge, O’Sullivan said he will wait until the dust has settled before deciding on his next move, but he might be vying for the US$1 million bonus offered to any horse with wins in three different countries in the Global Sprint Challenge — a tilt at the G1 KrisFlyer International Sprint (1200m) at Kranji in May, or making a return to Japan for the G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) in October being the leading possibilities.
“I haven’t really made a plan beyond today. I thought if he ran well we will be going to Singapore. But we’ve now got to start to look at the international series. We will be trying to win another race as there will be a million dollar bonus if he wins three. So that will be good,” O’Sullivan said. “We will sit down and discuss and see what looks best to his form”
William A Nader, Executive Director, Racing of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, said: “Aerovelocity made history today as the first foreign horse to win the Takamatsunomiya Kinen. It is yet another great achievement for Hong Kong as it is no easy feat to travel to Japan and win a Group 1 race. I would like to congratulate Daniel Yeung, Paul O Sullivan, Zac Purton and the entire team for a brilliant job. Aerovelocity overcame the travel, the wet conditions and also racing left handed to validate his December win in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint.
"The win today was extra special after a pair of seconds at G1 level last night in Dubai and it seemed like after Dubai, Hong Kong had some unfinished business. All in all, the weekend was a great success."
Aerovelocity became the third Hong Kong sprinter to win in Japan, following Silent Witness and Ultra Fantasy who succeeded in the G1 Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama in 2005 and 2010.
Aerovelocity (No.4) ridden by Jockey Zac Purton beats Japanese runners Hakusan Moon (No. 15) and Mikki Isle (No. 16) in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen in Japan today, becoming the first overseas horse to win in this Group 1 1200M race.
Masayuki Goto (right), President and CEO of Japan Racing Association, presents the trophy of the Takamatsunomiya Kinen to Daniel Yeung Ngai, owner of Aerovelocity.
Photo 3, 4
Mr William A Nader(first from right), Executive Director of Racing of the HKJC, presents the trophy of the third leg of the 2015 Global Sprint Challenge to winning Trainer Paul O��Sullivan and Jockey Zac Purton in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen.
All smile to camera at the presentation ceremony of the Takamatsunomiya Kinen.