Highland Reel caught in final strides of Vase cracker
11 Dec 2016
Aidan O'Brien-trained globetrotter has victory snatched from his grasp in Hong Kong showpiece
Satono Crown grabs Highland Reel (purple and white colours) late on in the Longines Hong Kong Vase
Highland Reel had a second Longines Hong Kong Vase snatched from his grasp in dramatic scenes at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The front-running British Champions Series star, sent off 1-2 favourite, was still about four lengths clear with just 200 metres to run but Japanese challenger Satono Crown emerged from the pack and overhauled him close home under local hero Joao Moreira to grab the £823,000 first prize.
The front two drew six and three quarter lengths clear of the rest in the fastest renewal in the Cup’s 16 years as a Group 1 contest (2min 26.22s).
Dual Goodwood Cup winner Big Orange was among those who found the pace all too much. He trailed in eleventh under Damian Lane.
Aidan O’Brien was proud of Highland Reel’s effort, which came at the end of a dizzy year that has seen the horse race ten times in six countries.
His exploits in Britain this season included victory in the QIPCO-sponsored King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, plus a second to Postponed in the Juddmonte International Stakes.
“He ran very well, he’s had a long season but he ran a great race – he ran his heart out,” the Ballydoyle handler said. “He’s had a phenomenal season.”
Moore added: “He’s run very well, a cracking race given the pressure. But it’s disappointing to get beaten. We pulled a long way clear – the winner is a good horse.”
The jockey later won the Hong Kong Cup in decisive style on the outstanding Maurice.
For Hong Kong’s record-breaking champion jockey, Satono Crown’s win at 19-1 ensured he joined Gerald Mosse as the only rider to complete a full-house of Longines Hong Kong International Races.
“It’s a dream come true to achieve the full house,” he said. “I was always confident I would get there.”
Lane said of Big Orange: “He didn’t break away from the stalls that well and I just had to use him up too much early.”