The irony of Real Specialist's somewhat controversial inclusion in the Derby is that it probably paved the way to the four-year-old's impressive Hong Kong Reunification Cup win yesterday (1,400m) and the gelding's stellar season may not yet be over.
The John Size-trained gelding dropped back sharply from winning at 1,800m in May but it made no difference, as he quickened readily when asked at the 300m, putting the Class Two cup away in a matter of strides to give Tye Angland a treble for the afternoon.
Angland (pictured) had already won on Alp's Glory, having his first run for Derek Cruz, and the first-starter Owners' Pride for Danny Shum Chap-shing, then he made it two wins from two rides on Real Specialist.
'I think everyone knows he's pretty good but it was a big effort to come back from 1,800m to 1,400m and win like that,' Angland said. 'We got a great run from the low draw but I was expecting that he might grind away and take a bit of time to get himself into the finish but he let down really well and just blew them away.'
With a handicap rating of only 83 at the time, Real Specialist was elevated to the Derby field in March ahead of one or two higher-rated runners, and the gelding's win record and Size's stated opinion of him had fair bit to do with that.
This win will take his rating into triple figures and his record to 11 starts for six wins and three seconds, but he could finish only ninth in that Derby.
'I said then and I still believe he's a horse going somewhere and, because he's a four-year-old, going to the Derby was a logical path, but what that run and the Queen Mother's Cup run subsequently have told us is that he can't stay,' Size said. 'He didn't stay in the Derby and then in the 2,400m, he looked very ordinary, and it seems his distance range is between 1,400m and 1,800m. With five weeks between runs and fresh today, he came back to the 1,400m very comfortably and did what he has done in every race where he hasn't needed to stay.'
Size said Real Specialist would run again in the Sha Tin Mile Trophy on the final day, looking for his fifth win this season, provided he came through yesterday's effort unscathed.
For Angland, it was his second treble of the term after landing a three-timer on the all-weather in October, and the young Australian said he had expected something worthwhile from Owners' Pride, despite his inexperience.
'I trialled him here and he jumped and travelled and went OK, and his effort was good today' said Angland. 'Even though my horse travelled nicely, I thought when the leader, Well Done, skipped away on straightening that he might have us. But Owners' Pride, to his credit, put his head down and chased hard for a first timer.'
Shum said he knew the gelding, who won both his New Zealand trials in good style, was above average but he had taken time to get to the races.
'I went and rode him in New Zealand and I felt there was something to him but when he arrived, he always had something wrong until recently,' Shum said. 'But even though he has had some problems, he really appreciated the hard track today.'
The number of wins Tye Angland has racked up this season after yesterday's sparkling treble