Self Flit sends a message to Tokyo
'He's in the Japan Cup next month and after a wonderful win like that, I very much hope he will be invited,' says Allan
High-class miler Self Flit will be Hong Kong's next overseas Group One representative as his mercurial trainer Ivan Allan seeks to avenge Indigenous' defeat in the Japan Cup of 1999.
Self Flit ($49) and the grand mare Elegant Fashion ($22 favourite) indelibly franked the Hong Kong Derby form with their one-two result in yesterday's $2.3 million Sha Tin Trophy over 1,600 metres.
But while the Australian-bred mare emerged the winner in the $14 million classic race back on March 23, it was Self Flit's turn yesterday at his preferred trip.
In fact, this was his second big win over the Sha Tin mile circuit, having lowered the boom on Bowman's Crossing in the Group One Classic Mile there in February.
Although Self Flit's form chart looks like that of a specialist miler whose class sees him manage 2,000 metres almost as effectively, the big-race maestro has announced plans to develop him into a 2,400-metre horse in the next five weeks.
'He's in the Japan Cup next month and after a wonderful win like that, I very much hope he will be invited,' a delighted Allan said.
'He ran second to Elegant Fashion in the Derby at 2,000 metres and he's a much stronger horse now.
'We know Elegant Fashion is a top-class international Group One performer, as she showed against Eishin Preston in the Queen Elizabeth Cup, so there's no doubt this form is very solid.
'The Derby first and second have fought out the finish. They are both Group One winners. I hope the Japan Racing Association people will be as impressed as I am.'
Jockey Weichong Marwing enjoyed an armchair ride on Self Flit, balancing the big bay horse in third position, behind stablemate Golconda, with heavily-backed Hidden Dragon (Douglas Whyte) splitting the pair till the home turn.
Whyte allowed Hidden Dragon to join the leader on the home turn but Marwing quickly moved Self Flit through and, after a brief struggle, he asserted his class and drew clear to post a 11/4-length winning margin.
'It was good to finally win a big race on him,' Marwing observed later.
'He was always one of my rides but when he and Golden Years both ran in the Classic Mile, I was on Golden Years and Eddie [Lai] picked up the winning ride on Self Flit.
'Then I was meant to be on him in the Hong Kong Derby, too, but had that fall at Happy Valley [from Dancing Sound, which bled and collapsed] and had to miss the Derby and Eddie got back on him again.'
When asked his opinion of Self Flit's potential to run 2,400 metres against international company, the jockey parked the ball squarely at the feet of the handler. 'Ivan is a genius trainer and if he says the horse will get 2,400 metres, he won't get any argument from me,' Marwing said.
'Self Flit is a big, strong horse and stands all of 17 hands. And while he has a lot of speed, he just keeps rolling as well. If the horse goes to Japan, then I'd definitely like to be going with him.'
Allan, of course, stands alone in Hong Kong racing history as the first and only trainer to win a Group One race outside the HKSAR boundaries, having taken Fairy King Prawn to Japan to capture the Yasuda Kinen (Group One, 1,600m) in June 2000.
'I really think this horse can do the job,' Allan said.
'He races forward, travels kindly for his riders, and keeps going at the one pace. He's strong and has a high cruising speed and I think that sort of horse is well suited in Tokyo.'
Allan formerly raced Self Flit's sire Cicerao, an Irish-bred son of the Lyphard stallion Alzao. He said Cicerao was trained in France and looked like being one of the favourites for the French Derby before going amiss.
Elegant Fashion lost nothing in defeat, having again come from six to seven lengths off the lead for a gallant second.
It's full steam ahead towards International day for David Hayes' dual-hemisphere Group One winner.
Hidden Dragon ($67) ran a mighty race for third after being one of the leaders through.
The horse momentarily looked likely to slug it out with Self Flit turning for home but was probably a shade too close to the Group One performer in the handicaps, receiving just seven pounds.
Dr More (77-1) ran a vastly improved race for a late-closing fourth, and trainer John Size obviously has the honest Danehill gelding right back on song.