Charming City shows true potential
As Fairy King Prawn was underlining just how tough he's going to be to beat in next season's Hong Kong Mile, Charming City emerged as one of his likely rivals by obliterating the rest of the field in yesterday's feature event, the $2.6 million Sha Tin Vase.
The David Hayes-trained three-year-old, ridden by stable jockey Basil Marcus, won by a dominant 3.25 lengths from Trillion Win, who ran home late for second to beat Citizen Kane by a neck for the quinella spot. Charming City's stablemate, Momentum, was fourth.
Hayes said: 'He's a really good, genuine, classy sprinter-miler who you have to think is only going to get better. Basil reckons he has quality and believes he could develop to be in the class of some of the very best he's ridden during his 10 years here. Horses like Mr Vitality.' Hayes went on to say that the first part of next season will be all about training Charming City for December's Hong Kong Mile. 'You have to remember he's only three. He's taken a tough season in his stride and improved from run to run. He's won here after five weeks off and after a little bit of time on the sidelines due to the virus that hit the stables. For me, he definitely has to be Mile material.' However, Hayes was not best pleased to hear that Ivan Allan has also earmarked the race for his Yasuda Kinen hero, Fairy King Prawn. 'Well we can't go for the Sprint because my horse wouldn't be quick enough for that. For us it will have to be the Mile wherever Ivan goes with Fairy King Prawn but that will certainly make it harder for us.
'That said, you should never be afraid of taking on one horse. You never know, he may have an off day and we may have an on day but clearly Fairy King Prawn is an exceptional horse and is going to be a major force in the Mile for us or for anyone else to take on.' Marcus made plenty of use of Charming City, moving up to challenge the pace-setting Citizen Kane before they had turned for home. He explained: 'We were just floating along down the back. He was travelling in such a relaxed manner I just knew he would pick up and find plenty for me but, yes, I did hit the front sooner than I would have liked.
'I feel he's a very decent horse who has tremendous potential. He's only young and has a lot more improvement in him.' Trillion Win was outpaced and going seemingly nowhere on the bottom corner but the tough pace took its toll on Citizen Kane, allowing Trillion Win to run him down in the shadows of the post. Momentum soon made up the ground he lost at the jump and had every chance on the rail for much of the way.
Blinkers made all the difference to the Francis Lui-trained Shaxi Fortune who took the eighth event in a hack canter under Eric Legrix. They scored by an eased-down 2.75 lengths from William's Surpass who finished well for second. Treasure Island just held on for third from the fancied Meridian Star with My Heart, who needed the run, back in fifth.
'He's young and learning and in some ways still very much a baby,' said Legrix.
'But he's also a lovely horse who is going to be even better next season. He was more grown up today with the blinkers on and did well to overcome his outside draw.
'Last time it was a quality run behind Helene Express and now he's gone back and won in handicap company I'm hoping he could turn out to be a decent performer next season when he should also stay farther than a mile. He's just needed a bit of time.' Tony Cruz continued his march towards a first training championship when Winning Scene, given another copybook ride by Felix Coetzee, took the last. Geoff Lane's Rebel Leader took the griffin event under Brett Doyle, looking a more than useful miler in the making.