Ba Ba will be back to his best, says Schutz
Andreas Schutz took the defeat of Good Ba Ba at the hands of Egyptian Ra in the Group One Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup at Sha Tin yesterday like a true sportsman, but believes the reigning Horse of the Year will bounce back in the Champions Mile next month.
Schutz was happy with everything bar the result as Good Ba Ba, ridden by Christophe Soumillon, was 71/4 lengths off the leader at the 1,400m, but rushed home powerfully with a final split of 22.08 seconds for a meritorious second.
On the day, however, the front-running prowess of Egyptian Ra was too much for him, with the seven-year-old lifting his third trophy but first Group One since his transfer to Cruz last year.
'I was worried before the race about what might happen if Egyptian Ra obtained a soft lead,' Schutz said.
'We have been fortunate with Good Ba Ba, to go through almost two years without being beaten in Group One races here in Hong Kong and in all those races, the circumstances of the race and the luck have broken his way.
'Today, it broke the way of Egyptian Ra and that's just the way it goes. If the race was 1,600 or even 1,500 metres, I believe we would have won but it wasn't - it was 1,400 metres and we've had to settle for an honourable second.
'I have no complaints about either horse or jockey, Christophe rode a fine race. But it was always possible that this would be a tactical race and that's how it turned out to be.'
Schutz said plans for Good Ba Ba to defend his Champions Mile crown at Sha Tin on April 26 remain unchanged, where he will clash once again with Egyptian Ra.
Egyptian Ra continued a horror run for punters during the three legs of the Group One Speed Series. The Centenary Sprint Cup was taken out by Inspiration at 14-1, while Dim Sum's victory in the Chairman's Sprint Prize was a 50-1 boilover. Egyptian Ra completed an unlikely set of roughies, arriving yesterday at 17-1.
Zac Purton was delighted with the third placing of Paul O'Sullivan's Fellowship, who proved his second to Good Ba Ba in the Stewards' Cup (Group 1) was no fluke with another quality performance.
'He's run another tremendous race,' Purton said. 'He's run basically the same race relative to Good Ba Ba and he's earned another good cheque for his owner. You've got to be happy with that, and I am.'
Admirable Sight Winner weighed in fourth, running his heart out at odds of more than 170-1 for Brett Doyle, with Armada an eye-catching fifth under Eric Saint-Martin and Sacred Kingdom sixth.
Trainer John Size said Armada's plan is the same as last year's - next start will be the Champions Mile [in which he ran second to Good Ba Ba in 2008] and all going well, another trip to Japan for their richest mile, the Yasuda Kinen in June.
Sacred Kingdom was the disappointment of the race. As trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fie had indicated, he was ridden quietly from an outside barrier and never got into the contest in a leader-dominated race.
'What can I say, he was disappointing,' said jockey Olivier Doleuze. 'He ran on from the 400 to the 200 metres but the last bit of his race was disappointing.'
Yiu said he would wait to see how Sacred Kingdom pulled up, but is also leaning to a try at the Champions Mile.
Green Birdie, runner-up to Inspiration in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint in December, ran disappointingly for 12th, while Enthused (Douglas Whyte) turned in an out-of-character shocker, finishing at the tail of the field.