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Signs Of Blessing and Growl come up short in HK Sprint

11 Dec 2016

Leading QIPCO British Champions Series sprinters cannot overcome unfavourable wide draws

Aerovelocity becomes the oldest winner of the Longines Hong Kong Sprint

Leading QIPCO British Champions Series sprinters Signs Of Blessing and Growl suffered mixed fortunes in the Longines Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin on Sunday.

The former, runner-up in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, finished a highly creditable fifth from an unfavourable draw in stall 13, but Growl, also poorly berthed, trailed home last.

Regardless of how they fared, British punters would have been shocked at the prices the pair started. Signs Of Blessing was sent off at 123-1, with Growl, runner-up in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint in October, going off at 230-1.

The race was won by eight-year-old Aerovelocity, who has long been one of Hong Kong’s most treasured warriors. He became the oldest winner of the race, worth more than £900,000 to the winner.

Francois Rohaut, the trainer of Signs Of Blessing, had described his draw as a “catastrophe” before the race. Afterwards, he said: “We had to ride him against the way he usually likes to be because of the draw. We know we have a super horse who is well up to this level and he will win this next year, as simple as that. We won’t let the owner draw his stall number though.”

Stephane Pasquier, his jockey, added: “The draw meant I had to wait a bit too long. He gave me a good turn of foot, but the outside draw meant it was too late.”

Graham Lee partnered Growl and said: “I was behind Ryan Moore [on Big Arthur]. We were a bit deep and he has gone to the bend and said ‘what is that’.”