Time Warp has smashed the course record to take out the Group One Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday, with Pakistan Star an honest fourth in his comeback to racing.
While the enigmatic Pakistan Star, making his return to the track after refusing to race in June, dominated the headlines in the lead-up to the HK$10 million contest, his stablemate was the star of the show, becoming the first horse to break two minutes over 2,000m at Sha Tin.
The Tony Cruz-trained Time Warp bounced straight to the front but it was never on his own terms, with Helene Charisma breathing down his neck and Matthew Chadwick settling Pakistan Star in the box seat.
Helene Charisma punctured on the home turn while favourite Werther (Hugh Bowman) loomed up ominously to tackle the leader in the straight.
Despite levelling up, Werther couldn’t get past Time Warp, who responded to the urgings of Zac Purton to get up by a half-length, stopping the clock in a lightning 1:59.97.
Time Warp wins his second 2000m G1 of the season, taking the @Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup under @zpurton. He sets a new course record of 1m 59.97s, the first horse to break the 2-minute mark, in holding off Werther, Seasons Bloom and Pakistan Star #HKRacing pic.twitter.com/cHfndOmseE— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 25, 2018
Stewards’ Cup champ Seasons Bloom ran on strongly for third and Pakistan Star battled home honestly to finish just a length-and-a-quarter behind the winner.
Even though Pakistan Star was slow out of the gates, he raced truly throughout, showing none of the quirks that saw him sidelined through the first half of the season.
While we expect to see more of Pakistan Star now he is back on track, stewards confirmed after the race that Werther bled, which will sideline him for at least three months.
However, all honours were with Time Warp, who now has two Group One wins to his credit, having also led all the way in the Hong Kong Cup on international day.
Best horse won today - 19yo course record broken, never given any peace...Time Warp deserved that one! #shatin— Alan Aitken (@chapeauxx) February 25, 2018
Purton capped of an amazing 35 minutes by capturing the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup with Beauty Generation to complete a Group One double.
John Moore’s star edged out the favourite Beat The Clock, with Fifty Fifty in third.
It is Beauty Generation’s second Group One, having also won the Hong Kong Mile in December.