'He's now shown what a great horse he is'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 December, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 December, 2000, 12:00am

Daliapour galloped his rivals into submission in yesterday's $10 million Hong Kong Vase to leave connections with a US$1 million bargain on their hands.

The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Sadler's Wells colt, purchased as recently as a week yesterday by Hong Kong property tycoon Robert Ng Chee Siong, was never extended to beat fellow Newmarket challenger Ela Athena by 1.75 lengths with Caitano a head back in third and top local stayer Indigenous fourth.

The deal was brokered by Hong Kong Jockey Club chairman Alan Li Fook-sum's son, bloodstock agent Dominic Li and his Newmarket counterpart Andrew Sime. Daliapour will now remain in training in Hong Kong, joining Ivan Allan's powerful stable.

Stoute said: 'We're delighted with the little horse. We were quietly confident before. Everything had gone very smoothly in the build-up, unlike Canada. He really settled in well and was giving us good vibes. We felt he was the best horse in the race. Johnny [Murtagh] had him in a very good position so he met no problems in what was a rough race for some.'

When Li put the deal together over five weeks that seemed an awful lot longer, there were some who scoffed that Daliapour needs cut in the ground and wouldn't go on the fast sandmesh surface at Sha Tin.

But Stoute added: 'It's a fallacy to think he doesn't go on this ground. It was faster than this in Canada and it wasn't the ground that beat him there. At Chester when he won, it was good to firm.'

As for why his previous owner, the Aga Khan, let him go, Stoute explained: 'We'll miss him but we've got to be realistic. The Aga Khan has a lot of horses in training and he can't keep all of them.'

The Aga Khan's loss - and he will receive a sizeable contingency payment in lieu of Daliapour's winning purse of $5.7 million - is very much Ng, Allan and Hong Kong's gain. The win was also a filip for Li and Sime.

Li said: 'The deal took time to put together and once or twice it looked as if it may not happen. But we all managed to jump the hurdles that were put in front of us and this week has gone so smoothly that I kept thinking it can't keep on so well but I daren't say so.

'He's now shown what a great horse he is. He's proved it today. He's raced from Canada to Germany and on all types of ground. He can go the things that only good horses can do.'

Li, speaking on behalf of Ng, added that future plans will now be left in the hands of Allan but the Sheema Classic in Dubai over 2,400 metres on the turf remains very much on the agenda.

For jockey Murtagh it was an incredible 12th Group One success of a season beyond his wildest imagination, following wins in such events as the English Derby and the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe. He said: 'I had a perfect trip. Everything went right for us in the run. We took it up with some two furlongs to run and he stayed on very well.'

Allan was pleased with Indigenous' effort. 'We knew it was going to be a slowly run race which didn't suit. Shane [Dye] rode him perfectly and he's put in another top showing.'

Michael Jarvis, trainer of runner-up Ela Athena, commented: 'We were held up for a second turning into the straight. We might have finished closer. She's done us proud but the best horse won.'

Helene Vitality, the former New Zealand Derby winner now with David Hayes, could never get into the race. Hayes said: 'The pace was too slow. He started pulling and that was that.'