A crowd of 67 205 and a new record turnover of HK$1.626 billion put the state of Hong Kong racing into sweet perspective at Sha Tin on Sunday as a SA bred son of Philanthropist, who cost the equivalent of HK 147 000, went down in a blaze of glory to bank the second cheque in the HK$ 18 million Gr1 Hong Kong Derby.
The Drakenstein Stud bred Cape Premier Yearling Sale graduate Singapore Sling’s rider Chad Schofield thought the silverware was his when he angled out to run for home aboard the Tony Millard-trained galloper.
“I had a lovely run throughout the race following Nothingilikemore,” he said of the second favourite. “When I exposed him, I thought I had the race won but Ping Hai Star won fair and square, he was too good on the day.”
Tony Millard was impressed with Ping Hai Star’s performance, as well as pleased that his own stable star had posted another high-quality effort.
“Singapore Sling ran a great race, I was really happy with him,” the trainer said. “He beat all the other horses that he’d run with and this was a fresh horse coming in. He had everything dead except for Ping Hai Star – this horse just ran unbelievable”
But South African national pride aside, Ping Hai Star was a deserving winner, handing jockey Ryan Moore a first Hong Kong Derby victory with a stunning last-to-first drive.
“He’s a very talented horse, I had great fun riding him today,” Moore said after the New Zealand-bred had quickened a length and three quarters clear of runner-up Singapore Sling in the HK$18 million classic.
The exciting bay clocked 2m 01.18s, the fastest time in 19 runnings since the four-year-old feature was upped to 2000 metres. After anchoring at the tail of the 14-runner field, 11 lengths astern of the pace-setting The Golden Age, Ping Hai Star blitzed through the final 800m.
The only horse to break 23 seconds for the penultimate sectional (22.91s), the 5.2 chance backed that up with a searing 21.99s for the final 400m. That was 0.27s faster than the next quickest closing split, that of third-placed Exultant.
“It wasn’t really the plan, to be that far back, at all,” Moore revealed. “I just felt I’d ride him with lots of confidence – I believed before the race that he was the one horse that could have more class than anything else in the race and I think that showed.
“He’s just a high quality horse with a very good turn-of-foot; when you get on him he’s a big, solid, strong horse, very powerful underneath you. Someone pointed him out to me back in January actually – said he’s a good horse. He ran that trip no problem at all.”
Singapore Sling cost R225 000 here as a yearling. He has earned just over R15 million this season!
There are 14 Philanthropists on the CTS April Yearling Sale and another 13 on the BSA National Yearling Sale.