Shoemaker's Kate sees off hometown challenge
GAME American filly Glen Kate (25-1) fought off the sustained challenge of Hongkong hope Helene Star (5-2 favourite) to win the $3.5 million International Bowl at Sha Tin yesterday. It was a nail-biting, short-head victory for the legendary American jockey-turned trainer Willie Shoemaker, now in a wheelchair after a car smash. He was not in Hongkong but knew of the victory following a live telecast to Las Vegas. And jockey Corey Black, who gave a superb display on the winner, was delighted following the presentation of the trophy for the 1,400-metre domestic Group One event.
Glen Kate had drawn next to the rails but there were doubts expressed about the six-year-old mare's ability to run out a strong 1,400 metres. But Glen Kate saw it out by the narrowest of margins over Helene Star, baulked slightly for a run and inclined tohang in slightly in the concluding stages. And crowd hero Quicken Away (9-1) ran a mighty race to take third place for Hongkong.
Black, who has ridden in Europe as well as being a leading jockey on the West Coast, said: ''She is tremendously game. And she is also deceptively fast. We were moving pretty good in the early stages and they could not get to us. ''I knew there was plentyleft when we straightened because she had been doing it well but it got desperately close. ''I honestly did not know if I had won it because it was so tight at the line. I was thrilled when our number went up.'' The huge Sha Tin crowd roared home Helene Star, always favourite in betting, willing him to win in the final few strides.
But Glen Kate held on - just. ''When you lose a race you should have won, you cannot be happy. I thought we should have won but we did not have any luck in running. ''I am not complaining but the biggest satisfaction for me in the race was the way in which Quicken Away ran,'' said Helene Star's trainer, Patrick Biancone. Quicken Away, who may have appreciated the slight cut in the ground, ran a magnificent race for champion jockey Basil Marcus and looked a real threat inside the 200 metres.
But Glen Kate, who has won over seven furlongs in Europe, just would not weaken and the ageing grey finally faded slightly. American challenger Cardmania (9-1), with Tony Cruz up, finished fourth and had absolutely every chance. Cruz made his run at the 300-metre mark but Cardmania could not get on terms and did well to finish fourth. Silicon Bavaria (10-1) came into the market on the strength of her immediate past performances and liking for rain-affected ground but she was knocked out of the race when the Japanese runner Hokusei Ciboulette (20-1) lost his footing in the shifting ground and knocked the French hope sideways.
Hongkong runner Kadbridge (14-1) ran a respectable fifth and certainly let nobody down but the big disappointment of the race was Irish challenger Diamonds Galore (7-1). The second favourite beat just one runner home in the full field of 14 and Irish champion jockey Mick Kinane was bitterly disappointed by the run.
''We were never in it and I can definitely say that he did not like the ground. It was a bit shifty and he wasn't happy at any stage.'' Kinane and Irish trainer Dermot Weld had combined to win the last running of the Bowl with Additional Risk but there wasnever the remotest chance of a repeat here.