Racing

Time Warp takes HK Gold Cup in record time

All-the-way winner breaks Jim And Tonic's 1999 course record for Sha Tin 2,000m

Time Warp set a merciless tempo to win the HK$10 million (S$1.7 million) Group 1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup at Sha Tin racecourse on Sunday.

After leading from the off under Zac Purton, who also took the HK$10 million Group 1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup over 1,400m in the next race aboard Beauty Generation, Time Warp was forced to go where no horse had gone before - inside two minutes over Sha Tin's 2,000m.

The performance was one of raw courage from Time Warp and smart timing from Purton.

Werther took the fight to Time Warp through that final 400m and Hugh Bowman's mount edged ahead with 200m to race. But the winner fought back and lowered the track record to 1min 59.97sec. Jim And Tonic's old course record of 2:00.10sec had stood since April, 1999.

"That was quite some performance, wasn't it?" said Purton of the second favourite. "We've been racing here for a long time now and there's been a lot of good horses grace this track, so it's a credit to the horse."

Purton set out to replicate the all-the-way tactics that had stolen December's Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Cup at the course and distance.

But, unlike the untroubled lead he enjoyed on that occasion, this time Tony Cruz's charge was harried along, with the John Moore-trained Helene Charisma pressing through the early stages. The winning margin was half a length.The result was no surprise to Cruz.

"I expected him to win," said the trainer. who has set his sights on the Group 1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup over 2,000m at Sha Tin on April 29.

"This time, they put the pressure on, they pushed the pace. I still believe he can go further even. I think he's a horse that will prove he can win the QEII Cup.

"He'll stay back for the rest of the Hong Kong races. Maybe next year, we'll go places with him. I don't want to gamble with the chance that he goes to Dubai and doesn't feel 100 per cent when he comes back to run those races in Hong Kong. I'm going to play safe."

Moore was full of praise for Werther. The bravery of the six-year-old's effort was accentuated in the revelation that the horse had bled during the race.

"Hugh got a head in front and he said he thought he was going to sustain it and kick a little more, and then we've seen that the horse has bled, so that's probably the reason why," said Moore, who trains the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup winner Beauty Generation.

Time Warp's win was Purton's second in the race, following Military Attack in 2013, while Cruz landed the Cup previously with California Memory (2011), Perfect Partner (2005), Bullish Luck (2004) and Deauville (1997).

By winning the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup, Beauty Generation bolstered his position at the top of the jurisdiction's sprinter-miler ranks.

The five-year-old settled outside leader Peniaphobia in the early stages before assuming the lead entering the straight. The gelding was joined on his inside by the Moreira-ridden Beat The Clock approaching the 100m mark. But Beauty Generation held off the favourite by a head.

"He was headed, but he waits for the other horses to come to him a little bit," said Purton.

"He gives a bit of a kick and then he just wanders. I think I have Joao to thank, though. He snuck up on my inside, quiet as a church mouse, but as he got on level terms, he roared at his horse - but my horse kicked."- HKJC

HORSE RACING