Typical tempo opens door for Dominant
In one way, the Queen Mother Memorial Cup was a good result, with the rare full field giving some hope it might fulfil its role as a feeder into the Champions & Chater Cup.
Somewhat less rare - it is almost compulsory - is having any 2,400m event spoiled by a walking tempo, which is why there were horses climbing over each other and hard-luck tales aplenty. When they're putting in sections bordering on 27 seconds for 400m in the middle stages, it becomes less likely runs will open up late in the piece since the horses aren't that tired and hold their formation.
Considering John Moore's comments on Dominant's fitness, before and after the event, we have to wonder if the horse might have been tight enough to win had the race been any sort of a test, instead of looking like a track gallop - a jig-jog around to the 800m then pick up the pace and home strongly the last 400m. Being held up for a while in the stretch probably helped the winner's cause.
When Super Pistachio won two years ago, the field of only eight got a little of the blame for an even slower tempo, but having 14 runners didn't make much of a difference - the overall time was only two-thirds of a second better. With so few real staying horses - justifiably, given the lack of races - it's something we just have to live with and the Champions & Chater will doubtless be acted out to a similar script.
Dreadfully run 2,400m events probably look an unattractive aspect of Hong Kong racing to any visitors for the international races, but there are only three and at least we didn't air that other dirty little secret, the appalling and misnamed all-weather track. Oh that's right, we did.