Ruler gets measure of rivals
Hayes star finally gets the big-race win he deserves but Fownes can't wait for rematch
David Hayes continued his dominance of the Panasonic Cup at Sha Tin yesterday but not with the horse he expected to win and the result only left rival trainer Caspar Fownes licking his lips all the more for the next assignment.
Hayes-trained Good Profit (Brett Prebble) was hammered in the betting from $44 to $32 favourite for the 1,400 metres feature, displacing Fownes-trained Perfect Partner as public elect.
But on the track, Good Profit could do no better than fourth while stablemate Planet Ruler (Gerald Mosse) finally took the good race he has been crying out to win and smashed Fairy King Prawn's course record for good measure.
It was Hayes' fourth Panasonic Cup win and his third in succession after wins with All Thrills Too and Meridian Star in the past two seasons. He also won the race with Special in 1997.
'The hot pace certainly helped Planet Ruler but he was unlucky last week behind Multidandy and he deserved that win,' Hayes said. 'It was a nice cold ride by Gerald and I think that is the key to getting the best out of Planet Ruler. Sure, he got back last week and it cost him because he got caught up behind horses, but he was hitting the line when he got held up.
'Today with clear running and the pace on, even a decent horse like Perfect Partner couldn't hold him out.'
Running 1.21.0 for the 1,400m, Planet Ruler clipped 0.3 seconds off Fairy King Prawn's track record and Hayes said the fast tempo set early by General Kingy, Golconda and Great Delight may also have been the undoing of Good Profit.
'I was very happy with how Brett rode Good Profit but, on reflection, taking a closer position because of the inside gate might not have worked in his favour with that speed on,' Hayes observed.
'Last time when he got well back with a strong pace on, Good Profit was very strong at the finish. Today he was handier, he came out a bit early when he saw Perfect Partner was coming around him and all in all it probably all just took the sting out of him and there was no finishing burst.'
Hayes said he had now abandoned earlier plans to take Good Profit to the Hong Kong Mile next month though he would still run on the programme.
'You can break a young horse pushing them up too quickly too soon and probably today showed he is just not quite there yet to be taking on the very best at terms. There's a high grade 1,400m race on International Day and he will probably run in that and then we'll look towards the Classic Mile next year,' he said. 'Planet Ruler goes well up the straight so he'll run in the Sprint Trial now. It's a huge ask to run against Silent Witness but hopefully he can pick up some minor prizemoney or a placing.'
Caspar Fownes was beaten but not bowed after Perfect Partner's second and is looking forward to the International Mile Trial in a fortnight and the Hong Kong Mile.
'That was great. He gave the winner seven pounds. Brett Prebble on Good Profit saw our guy coming before the bend and pushed him wider on the track and he was a sitting shot for Planet Ruler,' Fownes said. 'I'm thrilled because the horse is going to be right at his top at the right time, we go to set weights in the Trial which will be all in his favour and then we'll see the best horse win. Naturally I would have preferred to win but only the result was disappointing today. The horse was terrific.'
Hayes also filled the third placing with longer-priced Wyndam Easy, who blew the start for his apprentice rider and was seen in a new role coming from last. Tony Cruz-trained Raider made an improvement on his second run since bleeding earlier in the year and finishing fifth and David Oughton-trained stayer Roosevelt was by no means disappointing in 10th.
The fourth placegetter in last season's Hong Kong Vase (2,400m), after a limited preparation, Roosevelt was having just his third run since, having been plagued by injury. He was just warming up when the race was all over but at least offered some hope for his prospects in this year's Vase if he can be got fit.