Tactics pay dividends as Privilege shows true grit
They don't come much better than Privilege, as he underlined with a typically tenacious triumph in yesterday's classy feature event, the Remy XO Cup.
The five-year-old, secured as a yearling in a last-minute deal by trainer Ivan Allan for one of the territory's few female owners, Peggy Kwoh So-chi, was winning for the eighth time in 26 starts which have yielded the best part of $9 million in prize money.
The vast majority of those wins have come in that determined fashion of his which has characterised the son of Last Tycoon as one of the most genuine horses in training.
It was much the same yesterday. The top Australian jockey, Damien Oliver, took him to the front and rated him to perfection.
But accomplished French rider Eric Legrix, whose mount Deauville has seen plenty of Privilege, was alive to these tactics.
He sat on Privilege's tail and the two dominated from the head of affairs. They had the race between them from the top of the straight with Privilege's resolve leading to a half-length success from the luckless Deauville at the generous odds of 10-1.
The John Moore-trained Able Shot ran on strongly to finish a neck farther back in third, with Winning Horse an improved fourth and Citiluck, Privilege's stablemate and the hot favourite largely on the strength of stable jockey Basil Marcus being on board, running a creditable fifth.
Citiluck was wide all the way from his outside barrier and the first five were well clear of the others.
Allan was at pains to explain the jockey bookings. 'In fairness to Basil, he wanted to ride Privilege but I wanted him to ride Citiluck as he's still a baby and needs to learn about racing,' he explained.
'Citiluck has come up very quickly into the top of Class One and if he is to develop into a serious Derby contender, then he has to learn what is required.
'Full marks to Basil. As a stable jockey, you couldn't ask for more. He accepted the situation and just got on with things.' As for Privilege, Allan will wait to see how he comes out of yesterday's prestigious 1,800-metre handicap before planning his next race or two, though the 2,400-metre showpiece International Vase on December 8 is a natural target.
He went on: 'Privilege would be an absolute top handicapper were he running somewhere like England.
'He's probably just a bit below the Group horses but he would be a perfect horse for some of their top handicaps like the Ebor. We'll have to wait and see about the International Vase as the overseas horses will probably be very strong, though the advantage of the race is that the place money is very good indeed.' Oliver couldn't have been happier with his victory.
'It's terrific to get back amongst the big ones up here,' he beamed as he left the course.
Deauville lost nothing in defeat while Able Shot ran a race full of promise for third and Citiluck is almost certain to improve significantly for the outing.
'I might just bring him back to a mile next time as I want him to get amongst horses and know all about things. There's no point leaving anything to chance when the Derby is your target,' added Allan.
Geoff Lane's Viva Icta dropped out to run last following a bleeding attack. He will now be mandatorily retired as this was his second attack.
The reigning champion trainer went on to complete a double when Magic Fingers pulled away from the odds-on Danzighill in the seventh.
Magic Fingers was a first winner for Allan for his new apprentice Martin C. K. Tsang who recently joined him from Chris Cheung's yard.
Halfway up the straight, Danzighill was taken out by the winner but it clearly did not materially affect the result and the race-meeting stewards rightly allowed the placings to remain unaltered.