Privilege's stamp of class highlights Cup victory
Owner's dream Privilege duly clinched the end-of-season staying finale, the Champions and Chater Cup, with a 2,400-metre display that had everything - pace, guts and class. In the process he was completing a treble for trainer Ivan Allan and jockey Basil Marcus - a treble which gave Allan one hand on the championship trophy as it put him four clear of arch-rival Patrick Biancone. Allan and Marcus had initiated their treble with the much-improved sprinter, Citispeed, in the third event while another big improver, the lightly raced New Zealand import Magic Fingers provided the middle pin with a brave display in the fifth event. Marcus left the weighing-room laden with bags and trophies and with his usual ear-to-ear grin which denotes a successful day for the South African.
'What more can you say about Privilege that hasn't already been written,' Marcus said. 'He's all guts. He never knows when he's beaten and his win today was another of those gutsy efforts of his.' Privilege's past two runs have arguably been his best as prior to yesterday's emphatic length defeat of the admirable Deauville, he had run a tremendous third to Overbury in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup and he has won seven of his 24 races and been in the first three on 75 per cent of his runs for owner Peggy Kwoh So-chi. So can Privilege, an Irish-bred five-year-old bought privately by the astute Allan after he had originally been outbid at the sales, improve again? 'Well we all know that stayers usually get better with age and I do get the feeling that Privilege is now becoming more competitive,' Marcus said.
'That may sound a funny thing for a horse with his record, but it seems as if you can now mix it a bit more with him. He can get in there in the best company and take it so much more.' Deauville did not have any problems seeing out a strong 2,400 metres on a day when the threadbare sandmesh surface was on fire. Privilege clocked a class record time of two minutes and 26.1 seconds which knocked 1.8 seconds off his Class One record. The all-time best performance is 2:25.1 by Red Bishop in last season's International Vase. 'He definitely stayed all right,' agreed Deauville's trainer Patrick Biancone. 'But then I always thought he would. He has run really well, but he just came up against a very good stayer on the day.' It must also be said that Privilege was given a superbly professional ride by Marcus who must have a metronome in his head. The South African, assured of his fourth Hong Kong championship which is a huge feat in itself, took Privilege through split times of 24.9, 24.5, 24.3, 24.7, 24.4 and 23.3 seconds. He came out a little on the run into the home straight, just enough to tempt the Eric Saint-Martin-ridden Deauville to think about a run up his inside, before he closed that gap and kicked away for his race-winning sprint to the line. Sterling Town ran his usual honest race for third but Survey King, a dead-heat winner of this race last season with Makarpura Star, dropped out tamely after racing second for much of the way.
'He seemed to have gone over the top in his work and that was how he raced,' explained jockey Greg Childs. Allan was quick to point to the prowess of his Australian-based stallion Citidancer after two of his sons, Citispeed and Magic Fingers, took the third and fifth events. Citidancer stands at a fee of A$20,000 and while he did not quite win a Group One race when trained in England by Henry Cecil he was most certainly of Group One standard as evidenced by his narrow defeat at the hands of future Arc de Triomphe winner, Carroll House, in the Irish Champion Stakes. 'And you know, I think I rode in that race,' chimed in Marcus. Citidancer is certainly making a big impression in Hong Kong as Citiluck, who looks to be going all the way to next season's International Vase, is also one of his progeny.