Invincible Sage Surges To First Group 1

Gr1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize

Invincible Sage has emerged as the newest member of Hong Kong racing’s elite with victory in the Gr1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize on a rain-affected Sha Tin track on Sunday, providing David Hall with his first-top level win since 2008.

Hugh Bowman guides Invincible Sage to his first Group 1 (Pic – HKJC)

Ridden brilliantly by Hugh Bowman, Invincible Sage stalked pace-setters Victor The Winner and California Spangle before bursting clear to win by one and a half lengths in 1m 09.33s to give Hall his most important Hong Kong success since Absolute Champion’s Centenary Sprint Cup win 16 years ago.

California Spangle, who appeared not to relish the yielding track and struggled for rhythm when pressured early by Mad Cool, finished second with Mugen third. Hall’s other runner, Flying Ace, charged into fourth on a memorable day for the trainer.

“It’s been a long time between drinks, of course. As everybody says, this is what you get out of bed for in the mornings. It’s been a bit of a drought for us at the top level, so this is certainly a very satisfying win,” Hall said.

Hall said he didn’t know how much the soft ground had advantaged Invincible Sage.

David Hall celebrates Gr1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize success (Pic – HKJC)

“It’s hard to judge that,” he said. “Until we see him do that on a firm deck, I don’t know.

“But he has been progressive, and he is just one of those horses where you are still defining where you think he is at.

“He is only a little horse and you don’t sort of dream that high. He has done it progressively and got the conditions to suit him again today. It was an easy watch.”

The four-year-old had three consecutive victories as a two-year-old in Australia, as well as two minor placings, when he raced as Thron Bone before joining Hall as a syndicate horse.

All the three Australian wins were on soft tracks and with the Sha Tin track rated as yielding after more than 250mm through the week, Hall went into the race with confidence.

With the reinvented Hong Kong sprinter California Spangle aiming for his third consecutive Group One win, trainer Tony Cruz was hoping for a firm track.

As expected, highly-fancied California Spangle and Victor The Winner both vied for the early lead, while Invincible Sage sat off the pair before drawing away for an easy victory.

Hugh Bowman has built a strong bond with David Hall (Pic – HKJC)

Mugen trainer’s Pierre Ng could now aim the sprinter for the Gr1 Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley in September.

Japanese raider Mad Cool, which won the Gr1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen on a rain sodden Chukyo Racecourse in Japan at his last start failed to run on after placing pressure on the early leaders.

Invincible Sage showed his talent when second last start to Lucky Sweynesse in the Gr2 Sprint Cup.

Winning rider Hugh Bowman was full of praise for Invincible Sage, labelling the gelding has as top-class.

“I think a rain-affected track may have assisted his performance but even on a dry I think we would have seen a winning performance today,” he said.

“I am so proud of him and he has just settled in beautifully since arriving in Hong Kong. I had a bit of success with him last season and I have enjoyed watching him progress through the grades.

“Since Christine and I and the kids arrived mid-way through last season, Daivd Hall has been a stellar support the entire time.

“It means a great deal to ride this winner for David and the entire team.”

Bowman said he was proud of Invincible Sage and described him as the quintessential Hong Kong sprinter.

“He has come here, and he has adapted to the lifestyle,” he said. “He has put on weight and looks magnificent and it’s just an absolute pleasure to be part of it.”

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