Fay Fay rewards Size's patience
In the cold, black and white of a race record, John Size's first Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby winner was far from unpredictable but that would glosses over the moment 18 months ago when Fay Fay's future was an open question.
In the afterglow of Fay Fay and Douglas Whyte claiming the classic from Same World (Brett Prebble) and Sweet Orange (Weichong Marwing), Size was able to reflect on the year off racing with injury that may have helped the four-year-old reach for the stars yesterday.
'He is probably unusual, a horse that won as a two-year-old and able to win a Derby two years later. You wouldn't find that too often, but the year off racing at three has probably stood him in good stead for the long term,' Size said.
'There were a couple of things that kept him out - firstly, he had splints in both legs and they caused him a lot of pain. Then he got over that and one day he became cast in his box. He stood in the corner for a couple of days, unable to move with a lameness in both hind legs. He couldn't walk.'
Yet, like Entrapment's inability for a many months to control a hind leg, the problem didn't bring panic Size.
'I never panicked. Maybe the owners didn't enjoy it too much but it was like with Entrapment - Fay Fay had done enough as a two-year-old to know that he had plenty of talent and you know that they'll make up for the lost time very quickly, as long as you get them back in good shape again,' Size explained.
Earlier in the week, Size and Whyte had intimated that Fay Fay may be forced back in the field from barrier 14, but that changed completely when Whyte came out to the paddock.
'Douglas he said he had the feeling that plenty of horses were going to steady and that it might get a bit messy if we went back,' Size said.
'So he said he wanted to be more positive and I left it up to him.'
Whyte proceeded to put on a masterclass, taking advantage of the soft early pace to get to a prominent position, then he got going and strung out the chasing brigade, carving down the straight in 22 seconds. It was a move that wasn't lost on Prebble: 'Same World had to sprint for longer than the winner and do it all himself - I reckon if we'd got a trail into it my horse would have made them look second rate.
'He's the one from the race.'
Trainer David Ferraris was devastated not only by Sweet Orange's defeat, but also the four-year-old emerging with a cut on his right hind leg: 'Someone's hit him from behind and it's bleeding, right above the hock, on the tendon.'
For John Moore, who celebrated his birthday on Saturday by going into the classic with a record six of the 14 starters, second with Same World was the best result but there were brave efforts from Zaidan (Olivier Doleuze), Dan Excel (fifth) and Military Attack (sixth).
Moore's disappointment centred around the race tempo, which lapsed into its usual pattern despite hopes of better speed this year.
'It wasn't the test we thought it would be. Same World and Military Attack have probably run the best of mine but don't give up on Dominant, he was running home as quick as anything in the race,' he said.
Dominant's rider, Neil Callan, had been hoping for a Derby trophy on his final day here but departed instead with a three-day careless riding ban from race nine.