Longines HK vase
Longines Hong Kong Vase over 2,400m at Sha Tin
Aidan O'Brien's message was clear after the Longines Hong Kong Vase yesterday.
Highland Reel is "irreplaceable". Three times the Ballydoyle maestro pressed that view in his post-race comments and three times the bunched press pack nodded in unanimous agreement.
Highland Reel closed out his globe-trotting career with a second victory in the HK$18 million (S$3.12m) Vase at Sha Tin Racecourse - a win that epitomised his remarkable time as a racehorse: a street-fighting, stamina-laden seventh Group 1 success on a racetrack thousands of miles from home.
FULL OF PRAISE
Ryan Moore, who rode him to that first Vase win in 2015, and who drove him to a gutsy second behind Satono Crown 12 months ago, was full of praise for the Galileo entire. Highland Reel is the third horse to win the Hong Kong Vase on two occasions and the first to achieve the feat non-consecutively.
"It's been a massive effort from everyone to keep bringing him back for the last three years. He's been all around the world and it's a fitting way for him to finish. He's been a brilliant racehorse," Moore said of the favourite.
Highland Reel stalked the pace-setting Helene Charisma, with Godolphin's Talismanic a tracking third. Moore edged upsides the leader down the back straight, and, on the sweep towards the home stretch, asked the old warrior to press on.
"He's always been a very straightforward horse and he gets the trip very well. He's got a lot of good tactical speed and I was always happy and confident," Moore said.
Highland Reel kicked to a length lead early in the stretch as the pack began to pursue. Tosen Basil drove down the outside under Joao Moreira but it was Talismanic, two places ahead of Highland Reel when successful in the Breeders' Cup Turf last time, that posed the greatest danger. The French raider joined Highland Reel at the 150m mark but Ballydoyle's battler was more than equal to the threat.
Highland Reel brushed off his challenger for a length and three-quarters score in a time of 2min 26.23sec. The Hideaki Fujiwara-trained Tosen Basil boxed on for third, a further three quarters of a length back.
Highland Reel will now head off to a second career at Coolmore Stud with a record of 10 wins from 27 starts in six different countries.
"He's a very special horse - he's irreplaceable, really," O'Brien said. Moore has been in the saddle for five of Highland Reel's G1 wins, including both Longines Hong Kong Vase successes. And he was thrilled.
"His record shows he's a very good horse and it's a delight to have been a part of that," the jockey said. "He's a high-class horse with a great attitude. He's been a pleasure to ride and hopefully he'll pass that on in the future." - HKJC