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HORSE RACING | Glory Vase, Loves Only You Triumph in Hong Kong

Glory Vase collected his second victory in three years in the Hong Kong Vase, while filly Loves Only You won the Hong Kong Cup, adding to her recent major global success.

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Glory Vase wins the Hong Kong Vase on December 12 at Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong. ⓒTHE HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB

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UPDATED: at 6:30 p.m. on December 13.

Two years after completing the Hong Kong Vase in record time, Japanese thoroughbred Glory Vase was back in the spotlight at Sha Tin Racecourse.

Same horse, same jockey, same race … same result.

Brazilian Joao Moreira, known as “Magic Man,” rode the 6-year-old to a one-length victory over Pyledriver to become a two-time Hong Kong Vase winner on Sunday, December 12.

Glory Vase set the race record of 2 minutes, 24.77 seconds in 2019.

This time, 2:27.07 was fast enough to reach the finish line before anyone else over 2,400 meters on turf.

The Deep Impact-sired stallion, owned by Silk Racing Co. Ltd., is trained by Tomohito Ozeki.

For Glory Vase, how did the race materialize?

“I had a smooth run, going to the fence and saving ground,” Moreira told reporters. “I just made sure I got into the clear and I know he’s a very strong horse at the finish and there was not a fight.

“He has proven to be the best horse today.”

Starting with the Hong Kong Vase, Sunday’s marquee racing event featured four international Grade I races in the year-end Turf World Championships.

The Hong Kong Vase, Hong Kong Sprint, Hong Kong Mile and Hong Kong Cup, contested over 2,400, 1,200, 1,600 and 2,000 meters, respectively, were held in succession in the afternoon. Japanese horses, jockeys and trainers were involved in all four races, which had a combined prize money of $100 million HKD (about ¥1.454 billion JPY, or $12.8 million USD).

More International Glory for Loves Only You

Yuga Kawada and Loves Only You, who teamed up for a breakthrough win in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf on November 6 in Delmar, California, celebrated another major triumph in the Hong Kong Cup.

Loves Only You exhibited impressive closing speed to record a narrow victory over Hishi Iguazu, ridden by Moreira and trained by Noriyuki Hori. And the 5-year-old Deep Impact-sired filly completed the final race of her career with a storybook finish.

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Kawada’s ride maintained a middle-of-the-pack position (fifth, fifth, fifth and fifth) over the first four turns, then zoomed to the front down the stretch with a top closing speed of 23.7 seconds in that span.

“Thank you very much, I’m very proud,” A euphoric Kawada said after the race. 

Then he spoke glowingly about Loves Only You, who is trained by Yoshito Yahagi.

“She jumped well. The pace was a bit slow but then she relaxed and I was able to find a good position,” he said. “She’s given me two big presents and is the best female horse I’ve ever ridden. I hope she will be a good mother.”

Loves Only You, who became the first Japanese equine to win a Breeders’ Cup race (Marche Lorraine was the second in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff later on the same day), finished the race in 2:00.66. Hishi Iguazu was the runner-up in 2.00.68.

Trainer Tomokazu Takano and Belgian jockey Christophe Soumillon’s horse, Lei Papale, was sixth (2:01.41) in the dozen-horse field.

This year, Kawada is No. 1 among Japan Racing Association jockeys in win ratio (28.5%, or 136 of 477 starts).

RELATED: [ODDS and EVENS] Double Delight for Japanese Trainer Yoshito Yahagi at Breeders’ Cup

Golden Sixty Extends Streak to 16

The biggest story of the day was the 2020 Hong Kong Horse of the Year, Golden Sixty, winning his 16th consecutive race with a victorious gallop in the Hong Kong Mile (1:33.86). Vincent Ho and the 6-year-old Australian brown gelding finished 1¾-lengths ahead of More Than This. 

The race also featured four Japanese horses. Salios, ridden by Australian Damian Lane and trained by Noriyuki Hori, was third in 1:34.18, two lengths behind Golden Sixty. Indy Champ (jockey Yuichi Fukunaga/trainer Hidetaka Otonashi) placed fifth, Vin De Garde (Mauritian rider Karis Teetan/Hideaki Fujiwara) was sixth and Danon Kingly (Kawada/Kiyoshi Hagiwara) finished eighth in the 11-horse field.

Sky Field Wins Hong Kong Sprint

In the Hong Kong Sprint, Australian Blake Shinn guided Sky Field to a ¾-length victory over Takeshi Matsushita-trained 4-year-old Resistencia. Soumillon earned a runner-up finish aboard the Daiwa Major-sired bay filly (Sunday Silence was the grandsire). 

Sky Field, a 20-1 upset winner, took the top prize in 1:08.66; Resistencia clocked 1:08.79.

Kawada and Danon Smash, trained by Takayuki Yasuda, placed eighth, while Pixie Knight (Fukunaga/Otonashi) and three other horses ー Lucky Patch (born in New Zealand), Naboo Attack (Australia) and Amazing Star (New Zealand) ー tumbled dangerously during the race and couldn’t complete the 12-horse event.

“The filly ran well,” Soumillon said. “Unfortunately, we had a bad movement in the turn. I had to shift in to run away from the fallen horses. The winner pushed me out in the straight. She gave me a very good effort. It nearly looks a bit short for her today. I think over 1,400 meters, she will be even better.”

Race organizers issued a statement after the race: “The Hong Kong Jockey Club confirms that jockeys Yuichi Fukunaga, Lyle Hewitson and Zac Purton who were dislodged during the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint are conscious and have been sent to [a] hospital for further medical assessment.” 

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Fukunaga, who guided Contrail to a career-closing victory in the 41st Japan Cup on November 28, suffered a broken collarbone in the fall, it was confirmed at Prince of Wales Hospital.

Purton has nose and rib injuries, according to published reports.

Naboo Attack and Amazing Star were euthanized.

Racing.com detailed what caused the four-horse accident.

“The HKJC stewards’ report outlined the circumstances of the fall, with Hewitson’s mount Amazing Star going amiss near the 550-meter mark and falling, bringing down Lucky Patch (Purton), Naboo Attack (Teetan) and Pixie Knight (Fukunaga),” the website reported.

Author:  Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward’s [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sundays, in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven.

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