Royal seal of approval for Hong Kong trio

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 October, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 October, 2002, 12:00am

Royal Ascot is the most competitive meeting of the British Flat season and imports with that prestigious fixture on their CV usually perform well. It is no coincidence that Olympic Express and Industrial Pioneer - the last two Hong Kong Derby winners - had run well in the same mile handicap at Royal Ascot in the year of their purchase for Hong Kong.

The most noteworthy Royal Ascot race this time was the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes, a 2,000-metre Listed race for three-year-olds which featured three Hong Kong purchases and has turned out to be an outstanding form guide. Ricky Yiu Poon-fie's 100-rated Top Prize was a good sixth, with the quintet who finished in front all going on to win or place in Group events, and even the ninth horse home managed a Listed win.

Whether Top Prize can add to the trend has yet to be tested but Yiu appears to have found a horse very much on the upgrade as he finished best of all in the Ascot race and was regarded open to plenty of improvement as that was his first attempt as a three-year-old at 2,000 metres and on fast ground.

The American-bred son of Numerous is a half-brother to two winners, including a minor 1,800-metre stakes winner in the States.

Yiu also has acquired Al Moughazel, who finished 11th of the 13 runners at Ascot and is likely to be allocated a rating several pounds below his new stablemate. The Ascot run was his only attempt beyond a mile in eight starts and, although his breeding suggests he should stay up to 2,400 metres, the fact that he was dropped again in trip afterwards suggests his former connections thought his stamina was suspect. His only victories came on his first two starts as a two-year-old, but he did wind up his European career with a good second in a minor race over a mile in France.

Creekview, who has joined Manfred Man Ka-leung from Aidan O'Brien, was favourite for the Ascot race but disappointed in 10th place, having come off a fifth place in a Group One race over 1,800 metres in France, where he was beaten just over two lengths.

His Group One run is likely to make him the highest-rated of the trio but, while his only win in four starts came as a two-year-old in a 1,400-metre maiden on good-to-firm going, it is worth noting that jockey Mick Kinane said Creekview was unsuited to the fast ground at Ascot.