Curtain comes down on Good Ba Ba's career
The soap-opera career of former world champion miler and 2008 Horse Of The Year, Good Ba Ba, may finally be over after his retirement was announced yesterday.
The nine-year-old gelding ran 46 times for 16 wins - the last seven of them Group Ones - and amassed HK$59,026,500 in stakes, making history when he scored in three successive runnings of the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile.
At his peak, his stunning turn of foot left rival milers floundering and he formed a memorable partnership with jockey Olivier Doleuze and trainer Andreas Schutz in 2007 and 2008.
'He was a great pleasure to train and a great horse to me in my first season here and a great horse for Hong Kong and, on his day, he was probably the best in the world,' Schutz said yesterday.
'I never had another like him. Up to a point, I felt I had trained horses as good, maybe even better, but the day he won the second Hong Kong Mile the way he did, so easily, that put him in a different league.'
But his feats on the track, as the best horse to emerge from the Hong Kong Jockey Club sale, will be almost matched in popular memory by owner John Yuen Se-kit's whimsical handling of the gelding, moving him between different trainers and sacking his jockeys regularly, including twice dumping Doleuze.
Good Ba Ba left his first trainer, Tony Millard, without racing, won five of 15 starts for Alex Wong Yu-on then was moved to Schutz's yard as a five-year-old, where he ascended to the top of the world's milers.
Despite six Group One wins for Schutz, Good Ba Ba was switched to Derek Cruz as a seven-year-old and landed that memorable third Hong Kong Mile, but he was soon on his way again.
He returned to Schutz in May last year, only to leave again days later when Yuen claimed to have misunderstood the trainer's demand for compensation over the previous move as a pre-condition of taking on Good Ba Ba again.
His last port of call was with Michael Chang Chun-wai, but it was clear throughout this season that the horse was a shadow of his former self as he failed to fire in six starts, but there could be a new twist.
Rumours persist that Good Ba Ba might go to Macau, but Yuen has denied them. The gelding would need to be sent to another country before he could race across the Pearl River Delta.