On the Rails
The Yasuda Kinen has come and gone for another year and backed up two ideas again - the knowledge that the Japanese are at least as hard to beat in their backyard as anybody else and that any race at the end of the season always holds the prospect of disappointments.
We see it often with horses coming to Sha Tin for international races in December at the back end of campaigns in Australia or North America or Europe - they don't always bring their form, for a multiplicity of reasons.
And they run into local runners of proper quality who are fresher, didn't have to travel and have been geared for the very occasion.
Sight Winner ran well, maybe as well as he goes under the prevailing firm conditions, though we will never know what difference was made by losing his protective shoe in running.
Fellowship went to pieces, as Paul O'Sullivan feared he might. Watching him in the parade, there were indications that he might be handling things better than expected, despite walking for some time to get there, then having to walk around for another half hour before going to the start.
But the additional walking around again at the 1,600m was the last straw for the nervy gelding and he'd had enough. There is more to winning than just having the ability and he is not the first to have been unsettled by the lengthy pre-race process in Japan.
Beauty Flash, to our eye, was just another horse to have come to the end of his tether. Like others before him, including Fairy King Prawn when he finished ninth in 2001 in his second visit to the race, there was no outward sign. His appearance and demeanour gave no hint that he'd had enough, but no sooner did he move into the race like a contender approaching the turn than he was struggling. It was a tired run and not the Beauty Flash he had been all season since his first decent gallop in early August, 10 months before.
Through the length of the season, he won four races, had been tried and found wanting at the Derby and all of it, sooner or later, catches up.
Nobody ever said it was easy to travel and win, but there is a record now stretching back a decade for Hong Kong horses which says it certainly can be done when everything falls into place. Last Sunday, that just didn't happen but nobody should really be too upset.