Viva Pataca rides into sunset to end golden era
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Hong Kong's greatest money earner, nine-year-old Viva Pataca, has been retired by casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun to 'a nice green paddock', to the relief of the man who discovered him, John Moore.
This had been the first season Viva Pataca had not won since he burst on to the scene five years ago, and connections acceded to Moore's wish that the gelding be retired with dignity after a brave third in the Group One Champion And Chater Cup, a race that he had contested for six consecutive seasons and won three times.
'I wanted him to go out with some respect. It was clear that he is missing a cylinder or two now with his age and it would have been sad to see him race on,' Moore said. 'We are awaiting confirmation at this stage but I'm hoping that he will be able to go to Muskoka Farm, a beautiful property just outside Sydney by the Hawkesbury River, and live out the rest of his days there in a nice green paddock.'
The nine-year-old had raced in the United Kingdom as Comic Strip, winning five of his seven starts, and the then three-year-old was by no means a 'dumping' sale to get him out of the yard of Mark Prescott before the handicapper found him out - it was all about the big cheque book of Ho and the work Moore put into identifying him.
'We thought he was very talented and would have liked to keep him but it was just far too much money to be saying no,' Prescott later told the South China Morning Post, after Viva Pataca had established himself as the best four-year-old in town with a Hong Kong Derby win in 2006.
'Viva Pataca was not only the best horse I've trained, the flag-bearer for the stable, he was the horse that showcased my approach to buying these European-tried horses,' Moore said. 'My view was that, if you got over and spent time there, did the work and saw the horses for yourself, that you could find something very good - Viva Pataca was the horse that showed people it wasn't only a theory ... he laid the foundation for the big-race success that the yard continues to have today.'
The Marju gelding retires after 44 starts for 13 wins, five seconds and 10 thirds and $83,197,500 in stakes.
He won seven Champion Awards but only once as Horse Of The Year (2008-09).
An eight-time Group One winner, Viva Pataca had the Derby, two QE II Cups, two Hong Kong Gold Cups and three Champions And Chater Cups on his list of achievements.
The amount in Hong Kong dollars that Viva Pataca won.
- In 44 starts he had 13 wins, five seconds and 10 thirds