Good Ba Ba takes full advantage after Sacred Kingdom cops a bad break
The Andreas Schutz-trained Good Ba Ba threw down his credentials at Sha Tin yesterday to be Horse of the Year but the gloss of the Group One Queen's Silver Jubilee win was tainted by the extraordinary defeat of world champion sprinter Sacred Kingdom.
In a rare show of disappointment, the crowd cried out in collective pain as Gerald Mosse returned to scale on Sacred Kingdom in second place after the gelding had been pocketed for much of the straight and Good Ba Ba (Olivier Doleuze) was able to gain a decisive break.
The Ricky Yiu Poon-fie-trained Sacred Kingdom never cleared his pocket until the race was over but clawed back the margin to half a length.
'We will never know. Good Ba Ba relaxes in front, so he was slowing down but my horse's acceleration was very good when he got room,' Mosse said.
'I was travelling very easily but I am not a cowboy, I can't just knock them down or jump over them. I just had to wait. One of the other riders kept me very tight, unnecessarily tight, and I had nowhere to go. I feel very sorry for the owner and trainer - they expected to win and he should have won easily but that is racing.'
Yiu said it was 'one of those things but unfortunately it happened in a Group One race'.
'Right now, I don't know what will happen next. We came here expecting to win and I have to calm the owner down and talk with him about our plans,' he said.
'There is a Group Two sprint on May 1 with a maximum weight of 128 pounds and perhaps we'll look at that but it's all to be decided.'
While the public and connections of Sacred Kingdom were aghast at the defeat, Schutz and Doleuze were trying to redirect attention to the third Group One win for Good Ba Ba this season.
'He has beaten Viva Pataca, Sacred Kingdom and the best internationals who came here and I can't see why he wouldn't have a strong claim to Horse Of the Year,' Schutz said.
'I know that everyone will say Sacred Kingdom was unlucky but don't forget Good Ba Ba was four wide and didn't have an easy run, and he eases himself up in front.'
Schutz's gelding is on target to sweep Hong Kong's open Group One miles by adding the Champions Mile on April 27 to the Hong Kong Mile and the Stewards' Cup.
'At this stage I think we'll go to the Champions Mile without another run,' Schutz said.
'Going back to the Yasuda Kinen is an option as his domestic season will be over then, but we won't think about Japan until after the Champions Mile.'
The build-up had all been about the tactical battle between Sacred Kingdom and Good Ba Ba and most figured the outside draw for Schutz's galloper handed that particular victory to Sacred Kingdom, but it could not have been more different.
'I had the bad draw so I thought would have to wait but when the field slowed up, I made an early move,' said Doleuze.
'I was watching Gerald of course and saw where he was and I decided to go early and Good Ba Ba came like a machine.
'I wish things had been the other way, with Gerald in front and my horse chasing him because Good Ba Ba finishes so much stronger when he has a horse to chase.
'We didn't steal this race, we don't have to be shy about this win even though Gerald was unlucky. My horse is a champion,' the in-form jockey added.
Doleuze was later suspended for careless riding in the opening race aboard the first of his three winners for the programme, Simply Joy. But the exuberant Frenchman was feeling no animosity at that stage, despite the two-days' ban and HK$40,000 fine.