California Memory wins Hong Kong Cup
HONG KONG (AFP) –
California Memory swept to victory for the second year in a row in the 2000-metre Hong Kong Cup on Sunday in the most prestigious event at the Longines Hong Kong International Races.
The home-team horse was ridden by Matthew Chadwick, who also steered him to a win last year.
Describing how it felt to win two Cups in a row, the Hong Kong jockey said: “It’s unbelievable, the best feeling in the world.”
The lane one draw worked in the jockey’s favour and California Memory got a good start, holding on before galloping to victory in the final straight.
“Lane one was a great draw, the best draw you could pick. He jumped out of the gate then it was a question of being patient. He put it to bed in three or four strides,” said Chadwick.
The local hero had been left favourite to scoop the title after the world’s top-rated horse French gelding Cirrus des Aigles had to withdraw injured on Friday.
The US$2.8 million Cup is the highlight of four Group One turf events at the annual meet and the richest turf race over 2000 metres, with a first prize worth US$1.6 million.
Second place was taken by French horse Giofra with third going to Australia’s Alcopop and fourth place taken by Hong Kong’s Dan Excel.
Carlton House, the first horse belonging to Queen Elizabeth II to run at the Hong Kong meet, came in sixth.
After a wet week, the sun shone down with around 60,000 fans gathering for the biggest racing event on the Hong Kong calendar and one of the world’s richest, worth a total US$9.2 million.
In one of the day’s most dramatic races, Britain’s Red Cadeaux, ridden by Gerald Mosse, triumphed in the 2,400-metre Hong Kong Vase after a fight to the finish with Japan’s Jaguar Mail.
“Jaguar Mail made me make my move because I feared at the 500m that someone was coming up, so I decided to pick up. From there he really fought right up to the line. He showed fighting spirit all the way,’ said Mosse, who was celebrating his eighth win at the meet.
Last year’s champion and bookmakers’ favourite Dunaden came home in a disappointing fifth with rider Craig Williams saying the French horse had not been at his best.
“He was gallant but didn’t have his finishing kick today,” he said.
The day’s 1200-metre Sprint went to Japan’s Lord Kanaloa while the winner of the 1600-metre Mile was Hong Kong horse Ambitious Dragon leading the home team to a clean sweep of the top three spots.
Veteran Hollywood star Omar Sharif was reportedly at the meet to watch his horse Don Bosco race in the Mile but after leading in the initial stages the actor’s horse was overtaken for the prize places in the final straight.
There was more film glamour with Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet posing for photographers wearing a gold rose fascinator and figure-hugging red dress in the lead-up to the Group One races.
She stood trackside to watch the Hong Kong Cup and gave winning jockey Chadwick a hug as she presented him with souvenir watches from Longines.
The British star was appearing as ambassador for the Swiss watch brand, which is sponsoring the meet for the first time this year.