LONGINES HK VASE - 2,400m Flintshire makes his point
NUMBER ONE: Flintshire of France (jockey Maxime Guyon) staving off the grey Willie Cazals of Hong Kong in the Hong Kong Vase. - PHOTO: HKJC
The favourite FLINTSHIRE produced a tremendous spurt in the straight to score a deserving victory in the HK$16.5 million ($2.8 million) Longines Hong Kong Vase, the first of the four Longines Hong Kong International Races run in front of the capacity 70,000 crowd at Sha Tin racecourse.
The four-year-old's half-length victory in the 2,400m event over Hong Kong's Willie Cazals gave France its fifth success in the International Group 1 feature in the last eight years.
The host also provided the third and four place-gettters, Khaya and Joao Moreira's mount Dominant.
On paper, Flintshire was the best horse in the race, being the highest-rated (124 points) of the 11 runners.
But the Andre Fabre-trained bay colt had been luckless coming into the race, having found one to beat in his last three lead-up races.
They included Europe's most prestigious race, the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in Paris and the Breeders' Cup Turf in America, both over the Vase trip.
Ridden by jockey Maxime Guyon, Flintshire travelled slightly worse than midfield. Khaya led at a moderate pace.
Guyon peeled his mount to the outside on straightening and perked up when he saw daylight, hit the front at the midstraight to win easily from the late-closing Willie Cazals.
Said Guyon: I am very, very happy. He went very, very good. Last time in the Breeders' Cup, he also went very good but the track was a bit too soft, and today the track is very good and he went spectacular. He went easy.
"The pace was a bit slow but I know my horse has a good turn of foot. He accelerated without failing, even though he sort of idled once he hit the front. It's nice to win after these second places. Flintshire had a point to make here."