Vengeance's reign comes to an end
HK champion fails to finish race and is retired after recurrence of heart ailment
It was not merely the bitter weather that struck deep at Sha Tin, as the world became a colder place for Hong Kong racing yesterday with the retirement of champion galloper Vengeance Of Rain after being pulled out of the Centenary Vase before the straight.
In the race that announced him as the new star of Hong Kong racing in 2005, the winner of six Group Ones and more than HK$75 million in stakes, was struggling to keep up as soon as yesterday's race began and he was eventually eased down before the home turn by jockey Anthony Delpech. Trainer David Ferraris, Delpech and the Chow family, who own the gelding, were left shattered as Vengeance Of Rain was found to have suffered a second heart defibrillation.
Under recently revised Jockey Club rules on heart irregularities, Vengeance Of Rain would not have been compulsorily retired after his second episode - as was once the case - but he would not have been allowed to race for six months and connections had no wish to put the horse or themselves through that.
Ferraris announced immediately the decision to retire Vengeance Of Rain, and the horse will spend the rest of his days in the lush green paddocks of Cambridge Stud in New Zealand, where he was foaled and where he has returned for his past two breaks from racing. 'It's heartbreaking, but I guess in racing you have to roll with the punches,' said an unhappy Ferraris. 'He has been training like a bomb, there was never any indication ... so it's such a shock for this to happen.'
Vengeance Of Rain's first heart irregularity occurred in training two years ago around this time but after a spell in New Zealand he returned as well as ever, going on to an historic victory in the Dubai Sheema Classic last year on World Cup night - a supreme highlight in the careers of both Ferraris and Delpech that nearly didn't occur as the trainer had considered recommending the retirement of the horse after that first episode.
'As good as he has been - and he has done everyone proud - I will always wonder how good he might have been without this problem. The first time robbed him of six months of the prime of his career,' Ferraris said. 'Without a doubt he is the best horse I've ever trained.'
Those thoughts were echoed by a crestfallen Delpech.
'This has been a very difficult day,' he said. 'To see such a great horse finish that way was awful. Vengeance Of Rain has given me the most incredible highs I have experienced in my riding career and is far and away the best horse I've ridden.
'He did so much for me and my family but I would especially like to thank the Chow family, they are one in a million. Their support of me during Vengeance's career was just absolutely unbelievable.'