En Rapport sheds his 'unlucky' tag in style
Unlucky En Rapport (10-1) lost that unwanted tag when he beat odds-on favourite Victory Star (5-8) by a head in a thrilling finish to the Centurion Trophy at Sha Tin yesterday. 'Forget the bad luck he had before, this is just brilliant,' enthused jockey Wendyll Woods minutes after the dramatic race. Trainer Lawrie Fownes is in Australia and did not learn until last night that the horse he had put in 'to have a go' had landed one of the season's major prizes.
He said last week: 'It is not going to be a big field and he's a good young horse. He won't have a lot of weight and he could run into a place. It's worth having a go.' En Rapport found enough over the last 100 metres to hold off the fighting finish of favourite Victory Star, who had everything thrown at him by Mick Kinane.
'To give him his due, my fellow really fought hard and I thought we were going to be beaten. I know Victory Star from England and he's a damn good horse. But we fought on although the weight had a lot to do with it,' admitted Woods.
Victory Star, who finished second in the Derby, was conceding 14 pounds to the winner and Kinane, at his final Hong Kong meeting, said: 'He gave everything he had and you can't ask for more. I thought we were going to get him but the weight told a bit. It's a pity, it would have been a nice way to go out.' The tremendous run in the Gold Cup where he finished second to Deauville clearly told on Smashing Pumpkin, the 2-1 second favourite. He might have been tightened slightly at one stage of the 1,600-metre event, but looks to be more of a staying type as his Gold Cup run suggested.
Stablemate Aipoder (16-1) had set a cracking pace and Smashing Pumpkin had every chance. Fastest Star (14-1) finished third after a solid run under Patrick Payne and will go on from this run. Woods and Fownes have had a great season together and this was one of the real highlights to date. 'It was a bit unexpected and that makes it even sweeter.
But I was really praying for that winning post to come because there was really nothing left,' said Woods. The recent excellent run of former champion trainer Brian Kan Ping-chee continued in the opening event. Fresh from a Saturday night double at the Valley, Kan saddled up Go Go (12-1) to win the Class Four, 1,400-metre event.
Go Go had come down in the ratings and Kan had him fine-tuned for the 12-runner event, in which he ran out a comfortable half-length winner over odds-on favourite Telecom Boss (8-5 favourite), who is looking for longer than this but may ultimately not be particularly special.
Health First (4-1) finished third under Basil Marcus, and could be a long time winning a race, while topweight Endurance (10-1) made late ground and may figure in something longer than this.
Said Kan: 'Go Go likes this ground, which was quite fast today, and he was also well drawn. I knew he was ready to run well and I told the owner that I thought he could win. 'I know this horse very well and it was no surprise to me. I was hoping to get another double but Gold Yue Yee couldn't do it.
They took him on in front and that was the end of that.' His last-start winner, Gold Yue Yee, finished unplaced in the eighth event won by Mount Kosciusko.
South African Piere Strydom signed off for his two-meeting suspension with a winner in the sixth event, when a well-timed run brought success on topweight Never Say No (5-1 favourite). It was a rare winner for trainer Lam Hung-fie, who does not have a big stable but does get some handy results in the course of a season.
Never Say No is only a four-year-old, but was too strong for Class Five, while Kiwi Star (5-1), who finished a length and a quarter second, will also win at this grade. So Easy showed something of a return to form.