Viva Pataca hopes to prevail
Viva Pataca has been a monument to Hong Kong racing for four seasons. He's an evergreen who has maintained his form at a proper international level since landing the Derby in 2006 - and is now the favourite to become Horse of the Year.
The gelding has always carried immense added-value for the fans because of the popularity of his owner, Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho Hung-sun.
Whenever Viva Pataca races, and particularly when he wins, the television cameras are more focused on Dr Ho than the equine athlete, his trainer or his jockey.
In 2006, he landed the Derby and the Champions & Chater Cup for the first time, plus two other races from only six outings.
He had high hopes for Horse of the Year. Then along came Bullish Luck to land the Champions Mile, the Yasuda Kinen, in Tokyo, and the Asian Mile Challenge as a prelude to snaring the end-of-season gong from Viva Pataca's grip.
The following year, Viva Pataca comfortably defeated Vengeance of Rain in their final two encounters at weight-for-age, including the Champions & Chater Cup. The majority of judges decided that Vengeance of Rain's Dubai Sheema Classic win deserved more weight and voted that way.
This season, Viva Pataca has won four races for the term and finished it as strongly as he began it, resuming with a win and going out in victory as well, with a swashbuckling third Champions & Chater Cup.
Viva Pataca has now won about HK$71.3 million in prize money, with 12 wins and 12 minor placings from just 29 starts, since arriving in Hong Kong in late 2005.
It is the second-largest prize-money haul in the history of the sport in this racing-crazy town, and only Vengeance of Rain, Horse of the Year in 2007, has earned more - HK$75.4 million.
Owner Stanley Ho Hung-sun
Trainer John Moore
Record 12 wins, 5 seconds, 7 thirds, 29 starts
Prize money HK$71,331,500
This season HK$18,986,000
Major wins Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (Gr 1), Citi Champions & Chater Cup (Gr 1), Cathay Pacific International Hong Kong Cup Trial (Gr 2)