11 December 2005

Vengeance Of Rain was crowned World Racing Series champion after his outstanding win in today's Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup, which completed a great day for the 44,000 strong crowd and for Hong Kong racing in general.

The fans roared for the David Ferraris-trained five-year-old in the Cup and had plenty to cheer about earlier in the afternoon when Hong Kong horses filled the first five placings in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint with winner Natural Blitz providing trainer Derek Cruz with his first Group One win.

Cup winning jockey Anthony Delpech was understandably ecstatic with his win. "He is the best horse I've ever ridden and I don't think I'll ever ride one like him again. Horses like him come round just once in a blue moon. We found a nice position one off the fence and he was cantering at the final turn and he really fought hard. He has it all; class and courage."

Trainer David Ferraris was similarly and justifiably effusive. "He's such a star, isn't he? I think there is still more improvement in him, too. The owners have asked me not to race him in Dubai so we will target the Hong Kong Gold Cup, the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup and the Champions & Chater," he said.

While Hong Kong had good cause to celebrate it must be said that several nations could take positives away from what proved a truly international meeting.

The Japanese claimed the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile with the Olivier Peslier- ridden Hat Trick. But perhaps even more significant for Japanese racing was the franking of the form around their unbeaten 'superstar' Deep Impact when Six Sense (beaten behind Deep Impact at his previous four starts) ran second in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase.

The Vase winner was, of course, Ouija Board who must surely íV in the wake of Makybe Diva's retirement íV be now regarded as the best mare in the world.

Her 2005 campaign started alarmingly when she was beaten 29.5 lengths at York in June but trainer Ed Dunlop has resurrected her with outstanding runs in the Breeders' Cup and Japan Cup preceding today's success.

Thus, the Europeans could take some satisfaction too from the meeting with six of the past seven Vase winners coming from either France or Great Britain (three apiece).

Even the Australians, conspicuous this year by their absence, would have reason to be pleased. The first four home in the Sprint were Australian bred and every winner of the Sprint has been raised in that country. Vengeance Of Rain originally raced in that country but was raised in New Zealand.

In the end, all honours went with Ouija Board in the Vase while Sweet Stream was desperately unlucky; Six Sense brave after racing wide; and the ground probably too firm for the likes of Westerner and Cherry Mix.

The Sprint was notable for the unbridled excitement displayed by winning trainer Derek Cruz íV celebrating his first Group One win; the speed shown by the American filly Nicole's Dream through the first 600m; and a fine ride from locally based South African, Glyn Schofield.

Hat Trick was too good in the CXHK Mile íV no question. But again Hong Kong was to the fore with locals The Duke, Dave's Best and Bullish Luck running second, third and fourth respectively.

Vengeance Of Rain was all class in the CXHK Cup. Only just but what a record he's building: the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby, the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup and the Hong Kong Champions & Chater Cup last season. Now he has added the richest prize in Hong Kong racing.

The French mare Pride ran a cracking race to stretch Vengeance Of Rain in the CXHK Cup while Maraahel was sound in finishing third and the Tony Cruz-trained Russian Pearl running superbly at his first appearance since April.

There was no Silent Witness this year but the day very much belonged to Hong Kong players who took the best part of the loaf but left a few slices of encouragement for the international visitors.

"We had spectacular results today. Ouija Board was the first Breeders' Cup winner to win in Hong Kong and she produced her best performance in doing so. In the Cup, Vengeance Of Rain proved he is a truly world class horse. He produced the highest rating of the day in winning the Cup. With Natural Blitz winning the Sprint, Hong Kong has confirmed that it its horse and trainers are more than competitive with the very best in the world," said Mr Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the Hong Kong Jockey Club's Executive Director of Racing.