A former Cape-based galloper stole the limelight and the purse on a record day at Sha Tin on Sunday with a no-nonsense display of class and resolution to win the Gr3 Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse Handicap run over 1800m.
This is a race that could hold a clue or two to next month’s LONGINES Hong Kong International Races.
Hong Kong has staged Ladies’ Purse day since 1846 and this time the annual Sa Sa-backed celebration of style, elegance and glamour drew a large crowd of 83,383, which, as well as being an event record, was 15% up on last year’s attendance.
Turnover of HK$1.503 billion was a record for the day, too.
Known in his SA racing days as Strongman, Horse Of Fortune now has his trainer Tony Millard mulling over a shot at Japan’s superstar Maurice in the HK$25 million Gr1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup .
“We can look at the Internationals in December, and, if the owner’s happy to go, we’d have to look at that route,” he said, adding, “But if Maurice shows up, well that might be tough.
The South African import still has some way to go to be a serious threat to the Gr1 heavyweights that might line up at Sha Tin on 11 December, but the six-year-old is heading in the right direction.
On Sunday the bay stalked the pace-setter, Basic Trilogy – jockey Karis Teetan plotting a course two widths from the fence in second – and when that rival began to falter on the turn for home, the Millard runner had only daylight and 400 metres of turf between himself and the winning post.
“Today we had a beautiful position, they were going nice and easy and he had his head down, travelling easily,” Teetan said. “He ran a good race last time, I knew this time it was a slightly weaker race and going out there Tony said ‘just be confident on him and he’s going to give you a kick’.”
That kick saw off the dour Basic Trilogy, but it was the gelding’s gameness and stamina that carried him to victory ahead of the fast-closing top-weight Helene Paragon and the favourite, third-placed Eastern Express.
“He’s got a lot of quality, he showed that in South Africa, and when he came here he just needed that time to find his form, and, now he has found it, he’s showing he can perform,” Teetan said.
Horse Of Fortune’s four previous Hong Kong wins were achieved at Happy Valley and the gelding swept away any notion that he is a city track specialist on Sunday.
He was unbeaten in his first three Cape starts, culminating in his Listed Sophomore Sprint win in the hands of Karl Neisius.
He was bred by Robin Bruss and Kevin Sommerville under the Northfields Stud banner, and purchased for R150 000 at the 2012 Cape Premier Yearling Sale.
He is the first stakes winner from the second crop of former Summerhill resident Stronghold, who died after just two seasons at stud.
Horse Of Fortune is out of the talented former Riaan Van Reenen-trained Sweet Virginia (Casey Tibbs), who raced out of Phillipi and defeated her male rivals in both the Gr3 Winter Classic and Winter Derby.
This is a branch of the high-class ‘Milly’ family which in recent times has also produced champion Dancewiththedevil and graded stakes winners Bushra and Mighty Doll.