Horse of the Year designed for success
John Moore-trained Derby winner takes top prize in Champion Awards
Everything went according to the script at the Champion Awards on Friday night in the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, as John Moore-trained Derby winner Designs On Rome followed a familiar pattern from previous honours to take the top prize as the Horse of the Year.
The former Irish gelding won the Classic Cup on the way to prevailing over stablemate Able Friend in an epic Derby.
He then emerged from those races against his four-year-old peers to down all comers, including last year’s Horse of the Year, Military Attack, in the QE II Cup.
The only previous Derby winners to claim the QE II Cup in the same season, Vengeance Of Rain and Ambitious Dragon, had also been honoured as Horse of the Year.
And it looked a straightforward selection of Designs On Rome this time, despite some tremendous performances by Hong Kong horses here and overseas.
“A great horse. We were so lucky to be able to buy him,” said Moore. "A big thanks to Tommy Berry for getting the job done and our Team Moore for putting the spit and polish on him.
“Now our job is to keep him healthy and sound and look forward to next season. His first target is the Hong Kong Cup and then we’ll fly the flag in Dubai.”
The gelding was also named as the Champion Middle Distance horse and Most Popular Horse in a public phone-in vote, while the other public vote for Most Popular Jockey went to Brazilian “Magic Man” Joao Moreira.
Lucky Nine won his second Champion Sprinter award. Owner Dr Chang Fuk-to stole the show with a clever acceptance speech.
The first hometown winner of the Hong Kong Vase in 15 years, Dominant, was named Champion Stayer and Gold-Fun provided the only slight surprise with his Champion Miler award.
Divine Ten, who rose 59 points in the handicap ratings in his first season of racing received the Most Improved and Bullish Smart was named the Champion Griffin.
In most other years, an offshore Group One win would be enough to clinch Horse of the Year honours, but such was the richness of Hong Kong’s racetrack success in 2013-14 that the Dubai World Cup night heroes, Amber Sky and Sterling City, and the Singapore International Cup winner, Dan Excel, were unable to even win their divisions.