DERBY and Gold Cup hero Makarpura Star yesterday ran out an emphatic winner of the Horse Of The Year title. The John Moore-trained four-year-old held off the unbeaten Chairman's Prize winner, Mr Vitality, a shade more comfortably than had been expected with the prolific Bumper Star a creditable third. The final score, decided on an accumulated points basis for first, second and third choices from a combination of the public and the members of the Association of Hong Kong Racing Journalists, saw Makarpura Star on 561, Mr Vitality on 339 and Bumper Star on 165. But Moore was not there to pick up the award leaving it to champion jockey Tony Cruz to do the honours. 'I think John didn't want to come as he knew he'd be disappointed if Mr Vitality got the nod,' explained Cruz. 'But I was always confident Makarpura Star would be Horse Of The Year and in my book he thoroughly deserves to be because he won the races that really count. 'I'm not taking anything away from Mr Vitality or from Bumper Star but these are the top races and he can only win them.' Ivan Allan and Patrick Biancone, Mr Vitality and Bumper Star's trainers, bore defeat with equinimity. 'For once the press are right about a favourite,' they both laughed after watching Makarpura Star pull clear in the voting. Biancone then added: 'But we will have to wait until next season's Stewards' Cup to see just how right they are.' The Stewards' Cup is the set-weight mile event that both Biancone and Allan are eyeing as the prep-race for their stable stars prior to December's International events. It would also be a natural race for Makarpura Star provided he doesn't go down to Melbourne for the Turnbull Stakes. Biancone continued in a much more serious vein and one that is highly critical of the race-planning for the best horses trained in Hong Kong. He stressed: 'One thing is for sure, the Stewards' Cup will be jammed full. It is the only race in the programme which is suitable for our International horses.' After the Stewards' Cup, Bumper Star is likely to run in the 1,400-metre International Bowl and Makarpura Star and Mr Vitality and in the 1,800-metre International Cup. On a win-vote basis, there were 77 win votes for Makarpura Star though surprisingly there was just a solitary one for his stablemate, Survey King, who had dead-heated with Makarpura Star in the Champions and Chater Cup and had finished in front of him when they were third and fifth to Red Bishop in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup.