Fellowship continues to shine but O'Sullivan unsure of future plans
Paul O'Sullivan declared time on Fellowship's season after the O'Reilly gelding gave a valiant display under 132 pounds to take the Chek Keng Handicap, signalling an imminent elevation to the top grade.
In winning the HK$1.6 million Class One race, Fellowship will boost his rating to around 110, and O'Sullivan will have little option but to campaign against the higher-class horses next season.
'He's done a good job today and I'm very proud of him - it was a great ride and a brave win,' O'Sullivan said. 'But as to what the future holds, I'm not so sure.
'Obviously, from the position he's going to be in the handicap, we have to start thinking about the better races but I'm not going to be suggesting the Hong Kong Mile or anything like that.'
Fellowship has now had four wins and three seconds from his 11 local starts and impressed jockey Zac Purton, who was having his first ride on the five-year-old bay.
'He's had the big weight today and showed a nice turn of foot,' said Purton, who completed a double, having also landed the seventh race with Sunny Smiles for Ricky Yiu Poon-fie. 'I'm not saying he's up to the very best but next season one of those Group Three mile races, like the Sha Tin Trophy, wouldn't be beyond him.'
Fellowship landed a massive betting plunge, firming from $69 to $31 favourite under an avalanche of support in the biggest turnover race of the day (HK$124 million across all pools).
The race was dominated by the top-weighted horses, with Fellowship scoring by 1/2 lengths from the number one saddlecloth carrier Excellent Boy (Gerald Mosse), who was gallant in defeat under 133 pounds after starting from gate 14.
Opening favourite Danesis sweated up badly in the paddock and raced too keenly in the middle stages before weakening to sixth, beaten 31/2 lengths.