Bullish gets the nod this time by a whisker
It looked like a case of deja vu for Bullish Friend after a torrid struggle down the straight ended in a nose margin, but this time the bob of the head was his way and the Tony Cruz-trained three-year-old claimed the verdict - twice.
Twelve days earlier, Bullish Friend (Matthew Chadwick) and Sea Dragon staged a similar duel down the Sha Tin home straight, with the John Size-trained galloper having an eyelash to spare over Bullish Friend at the camera.
Yesterday, it was the John Moore-trained Flagship Shine (Neil Callan) who joined battle with him halfway up the straight and things got very tight and competitive, before Moore's runner looked to have prevailed. But the replay showed he was in front more than once in the final 150m, including just before and after the line, but not where it mattered.
Then no sooner had the placings been determined that Moore threw in an objection against Bullish Friend for interference at the 200m.
"He did shift in at the 200m and crowd Flagship Shine," said chief steward Kim Kelly later. "However, after that had occurred, Flagship Shine clearly got to the lead and Bullish Friend has come back on him to win."
The objection thrown out, connections were free to soak up the victory and the HK$500,000 bonus cheque that came their way because Bullish Friend is a graduate of the Jockey Club's international sale.
"I'm very happy with how this horse is going and he has a future," said Cruz. "Maybe he was lucky to get the photo today but last time we lost by a whisker, this time we won by a whisker. We got one back.
"There was some contact between the two horses, but also Callan hit Matthew with the whip and it got very tight for while. I think the second horse is quite a nice horse, and Bullish Friend has beaten him so that says he's going somewhere."
Chadwick said the win had shown Bullish Friend had more than one string to his tactical bow as well.
"When he won in Class Four, he sat back just off the pace and finished off. Today, he led and was able to finish it off too, so he's versatile and that's going to help him as he rises in grade," Chadwick said. "He looks a progressive type of horse."