Inspiration pulls off almighty shock
Fears that Hong Kong's quickest horses might be dethroned in the Hong Kong Sprint simply evaporated in a moment of pure inspiration yesterday that had trainer John Moore pinching himself and planning an overseas campaign.
After a six-year reign by the hometown horses, they had looked vulnerable going into this renewal, but Darren Beadman produced a sensational ride on the Moore-trained 67-1 chance Inspiration to win the Sprint, while the Caspar Fownes-trained Green Birdie made it a quinella ahead of hot favourite Apache Cat.
The international scene was not on the agenda at all for Inspiration, but when Godolphin's Diabolical and another Dubai-trained sprinter dropped out after fields were announced, the Jockey Club's international racing manager, Mark Player, extended a late invitation to Moore.
'I only put him in the race because the Jockey Club rang me and asked if we'd like to run and I said, 'Yeah, why not'?' Moore laughed.
'I thought we were making up the numbers frankly and I still have to pinch myself to know this has actually happened. He's always had ability but often hasn't shown it when he's led, but Darren gave him the ride of the century.'
The shock win has now given Moore a headache as Inspiration's revised handicap rating will take him out of the races for which had been eligible until yesterday, and the trainer admitted it wasn't going to be easy to place Inspiration now.
'But I've spoken to the chairman of the Victoria Racing Club and said to him maybe we should look at the Lightning Stakes in Melbourne in February, which is a leg of the Global Sprint Challenge, and we'll see what happens there.'
It was Moore's second HKIR victory, having won the Cup with Motivation in 1993 for the same ownership as Inspiration, and both he and Beadman were scratching their heads for reasons as to how it happened.
'It was hard to think he could do this against some top sprinters from around the world at set weights but John had freshened him up since the Sprint Trial and he was very fit and very well,' Beadman said.
'He jumped into the bridle and travelled well following Apache Cat and I was happy enough in the run. I peeled out at the top of the straight and wasn't expecting to sprint as fast as Apache Cat but I was surprised that we got past him pretty quickly.'
Trainer Greg Eurell said minor interference and an apparent 'flat spot' brought the downfall of Apache Cat, who got going again in the final stages for third after looking at one point like dropping out of contention.
'He got through the flat spot, got rolling again and it might have been more interesting if he had got a clean run, but by the time he got to his top, they were already at theirs and it's hard to pick them up when they're going as fast as that,' said Eurell, who plans further overseas sorties with Apache Cat with a focus on Singapore and Britain.
Fownes said Beadman's early move on Inspiration to set up a lead in the straight probably came against Green Birdie, who prefers to be held up for as long as possible to make his finish.
'I thought at the 200 metres that he would have to get past Inspiration but just having to sustain his run for a while does take the edge off him,' he said.
Lucky for some
Inspiration comes good to deliver the killer blow at odds of: 67-1