Good Ba Ba's future shrouded in mystery

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 July, 2011, 12:00am


Just Sacred Kingdom remains in training from a golden era of champions now deep into winter after the retirement of Hong Kong's greatest stakes earner, Viva Pataca, and three-time Hong Kong Mile hero Good Ba Ba.

The future for Good Ba Ba is shrouded in mystery, with persistent talk owner John Yuen Se-kit would 'retire' the former champion miler to a new career in Singapore or Macau at 10 years old, but the prospect for Viva Pataca is a kinder 'nice green paddock' by the Hawkesbury River just outside of Sydney.

It was the first season Viva Pataca had not won since he burst onto the scene five years ago, and connections acceded to Moore's wish the gelding be retired 'with some respect' after a brave third in the Group One Champions & Chater Cup, a race he had contested for six consecutive seasons and won three times.

The gelding finished with 44 starts for 13 wins, five seconds and 10 thirds and HK$83,197,500 in stakes, eight Group One wins, seven Champion Awards - only once as Horse Of The Year (2008-09). The only thing missing was an international on foreign soil, something a bad barrier may have cost him in Dubai at what ultimately was his only overseas trip despite the plans that were frequently contemplated.

For fellow nine-year-old, 2007-08 Horse Of The Year Good Ba Ba, the soap opera of his career may not yet be over, despite 46 runs for 16 wins - the last seven of those Group Ones - and HK$59,026,500 in stakes. For all his success, Good Ba Ba's trainers were changed with an unreasonable frequency, his jockeys less often but his most regular partner, Olivier Doleuze, was still sacked off his back more than once under Yuen's whimsical direction.

Good Ba Ba topped the world mile rankings for two years under Andreas Schutz, but had his greatest moment as the first horse to win three Hong Kong international events on end, swooping late to the roar of a big, parochial crowd to take the 2009 Hong Kong Mile for Derek Cruz, just when some were questioning whether he had lost his edge.