Highland Reel denied by Crown in Hong Kong Vase
Highland Reel: was just edged out in his bid for a third Group 1 in 2016
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Highland Reel denied by Satono Crown in Vase By Keith Melrose 6:24AM 11 DEC 2016
Report: Sha Tin, Sunday
Longines Hong Kong Vase (Group 1), 1m4f, 3yo+, turf
HIGHLAND REEL came agonisingly close to a second successive win in the Longines Hong Kong Vase on Sunday, but a late surge by Satono Crown and Joao Moreira snatched the prize for Japan.
Though it had been intended that the other challenger from the British Isles, Big Orange, would make the early running, Ryan Moore on Highland Reel was in front at the first bend and soon saw off the attentions of Big Orange, who was moved up to challenge just before halfway.
Moore kicked turning into the straight on the 1-2 favourite and briefly looked in full command. However, Moreira soon burst from the pack on Satono Crown and steadily wore down the lead, getting there with 20 metres to go and prevailing by half a length.
Any temptation to say that Moore went too soon was refuted by the gap back to third-placed One Foot In Heaven, who only got the nod to run at the eleventh hour. He was beaten a further six and three-quarter lengths. Highland Reel had pulled away from him and the others all the way to the line.
Moreira said: "I knew I had a lot of horse underneath. The way he won today he showed he has a lot of talent. He beat a world class horse in Highland Reel and to be his rider today is a blessing.
"I was always confident I would get there. I was behind a horse that was taking me back rather than into the race, so I switched to follow Maxime Guyon [on Silverwave]. Once I got on the outside and had a clear run I could tell he was full of himself and he was going to bash down. I think he would have won with any other rider on top."
Trainer Aidan O'Brien said of the runner-up, who has run in six different racing jurisdictions this year, winning the King George at Ascot and the Breeders' Cup Turf: "I'm delighted, he ran his heart out."
Also at Sha Tin on Sunday. . .
Longines Hong Kong Sprint (Group 1), 3y0+, 6f, turf
THERE was another dramatic late charge in the Sprint 40 minutes after the Vase, but this time Aerovelocity held off the surging Lucky Bubbles to win by a short-head.
The winner was regaining the race he had won as a six-year-old in 2014 and in so doing became the oldest winner of the race since its inception in 1999.
Lucky Bubbles could certainly be called unfortunate, however, as jockey Brett Prebble was forced off the rail leaving the back straight to challenge wide and yet just failed.
Winning rider Zac Purton said: "With 100m to go I was very confident. At 50m I could feel Lucky Bubbles coming and I was just praying for the post."
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