Satono steals Highland’s Crown
Highland Reel had to settle for second as Satono Crown caught him just strides from the line in the Longines Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin.
oao Moreira riding Satono Crown of Japan defeats Ryan Moore riding Highland Reel
Aidan O'Brien's charge was attempting to repeat his victory of last year in the 12-furlong Group One heat and Ryan Moore was positive from the off, establishing a definite lead passing the post for the first time.
The Michael Bell-trained Big Orange was initially settled in fifth by Damian Lane, but he decided to kick on around seven furlongs from home and moved up to try to exert some pressure on Highland Reel.
However, Big Orange began to feel the effects of that move around three furlongs from home and he dropped away as a handful of horses prepared to challenge.
Moore appeared to have their moves covered though and he had a clear lead with a furlong to run, only for Japanese raider Satono Crown to unleash a telling late charge under Joao Moreira.
The Noriyuki Hori-trained colt passed Highland Reel in the shadow of the post, winning by half a length with over six lengths back to the third, the French runner One Foot In Heaven.
O'Brien was thrilled with Highland Reel's performance, adding: "We had no choice but to make it a test off a very sedate early gallop. I'm delighted with him. He has run his heart out."
Satono Crown's trainer Hori felt the race had worked out in his charge's favour.
He said: "I'm very happy the race went so well for us. He reminds me of another very good horse I trained called Duramente who was also a very good two-year-old and developed."
Moreira added: "It's a dream come true. I always knew he had it in him to land a very big prize and turning in I had a lot of horse underneath me.
"I was held back a bit by Silverwave at one stage coming round the turn, but when he saw clear daylight he really picked up for me." Winning trainer Paul O'Sullivan said: "We expected him to be competitive while at the same moment thinking time might have caught up with him. It has taken him a lot longer to come to hand this year."We have had a few problems along the way, he had a heart irregularity and when he travelled to Japan, he got colic."He certainly is the bravest horse I have ever put a saddle on."Purton added: "Paul has really pulled one out of his bag of tricks today because this horse is a little bit older."I got into the straight and I felt confident, it was just in the final 100 metres that he tried to go in towards the fence as he came under maximum pressure."I heard Lucky Bubbles coming but the post came in time."