Viva Macau can lift the gloom for owner in the Ladies' Purse
Viva Macau can complete a week of polar-opposite fortunes for owner Stanley Ho Hung-sun in Sunday's Sa Sa Ladies' Purse at Sha Tin, according to jockey Darren Beadman.
On Wednesday night, the horse who should have been Ho's next big gun, Viva Hong Kong, put himself at the cusp of retirement when he tailed out to last in a Class Two Handicap and pulled up with a heart irregularity.
And while the highly vaunted Viva Macau will never match the accomplishments of the most famous Viva of all, Viva Pataca, the big black stallion has some points on the board as far as the Ladies' Purse is concerned.
Twelve months ago, in this very race, Viva Macau gave Beadman the first trophy race of his return tour of duty, and according to the Australian, he feels 'just as good' in the lead-up to his title defence.
'He's an interesting horse, a bit of a character really, but he's a horse that can be very hard to beat when everything goes his way,' Beadman said.
'But the way he looks, and the way he feels to me, I think he's just as good as last year and perhaps even a little better. He's already won under 133 pounds, so having that big weight again isn't really a major issue to him.'
Beadman paid tribute to retaining trainer John Moore for the 'superb condition' not just of Viva Macau, but of the entire yard, which leads the trainers' standings with 10 wins.
'John's attention to detail as far as the horse's health and fitness is concerned is quite outstanding,' Beadman said. 'Every horse I've ridden so far this season, whether it's won or not, there hasn't been one that you could look at in the mounting yard beforehand and think it's a bit dull in the coat.
'They are all there, in great order, glowing with good health and ready to perform to the best of their ability.'
The demise of Viva Hong Kong on Wednesday night reflects the less-often told, more sobering side to racehorse ownership.
Viva Hong Kong had finished seventh behind the mighty Authorized in the 2007 Epsom Derby. Just one length ahead of him was Salford Mill, later bought by agent Dan O'Donnell for the Woo family to join the Tony Cruz stable and who became the Hong Kong Derby winner under his new name of Helene Mascot.
But while everything went right with Helene Mascot to that point in his career, the reverse was true for Viva Hong Kong. 'He was just one of those horses that didn't seem to fit in, he was never 100 per cent happy or comfortable,' Beadman lamented. 'We never saw the best of him or anything close to the best of him.'
Viva Hong Kong was found to have a heart irregularity after his first Hong Kong start on December 1. After his second episode on Wednesday night, stewards banned him for six months.
But Moore's reaction was that the stable was unlikely to persist. After consultation with Ho, Viva Hong Kong would probably be retired, Moore added.