Victorious jockey Zac Purton said Aerovelocity's 12-month transformation from Class Three handicap winner on international day last year to international Group One winner this year may not have happened anywhere else than under the care of popular New Zealand trainer Paul O'Sullivan.

Purton said Aerovelocity's rise through the ranks - culminating in a tough effort to lead all the way in the Hong Kong Sprint - was testament to O'Sullivan's patience with a tenacious, but headstrong horse that was a headache for handlers before a race and just as hard to handle for his on-track opponents.

"Paul takes his time with them and lets them develop and that is what we have seen with this horse. He has let him progress through the grades," Purton said.

"With some other trainers he may not have got this far.

"He is a hot-headed horse and could easily have gone the other way.

He is a hot-headed horse and could easily have gone the other way.
Zac Purton

"He can be a pretty dangerous horse - he has run over a few people and broken a few bones. You just have to be careful with him."

With a name like Aerovelocity it seems natural the sprinter will one day travel the world, and while yesterday's breakthrough victory - his first at Group One level - almost ensures a trip abroad at some stage, expect the aggressive gelding to be travelling alone when he does.

O'Sullivan said he may look at overseas targets with his six-year-old. And assistant trainer Pierre Ng Pang-chi - whose arrival at the stable at the start of last season coincided with Aerovelocity's march through the grades - said the son of Pins would be fine on a plane - "as long as he is alone, he doesn't like other horses much".

It is now etched into folklore that O'Sullivan originally struggled to sell Aerovelocity out of his brother Lance's Matamata stable, but now the success of a horse with what Ng kindly calls "a unique temperament" seems to have represented a turning point in his stable's fortunes.

It had been nearly five years since O'Sullivan had won a Group One before yesterday's HK$18.5 million feature.

"One good horse can turn things around and they start to stampede back into your stable," the 55-year-old trainer said.

Aerovelocity repelled the challenge of 2.8 favourite Peniaphobia, with Japanese mare Straight Girl third and Gordon Lord Byron fourth for the third time on international day after narrowly missing a place in the last two Hong Kong Miles.

Peniaphobia's jockey, Douglas Whyte, said the nature of the "dog fight" suited the winner more, but his horse, still a northern hemisphere bred three-year-old, "has it all ahead of him".

"I thought I had the winner covered, but Aerovelocity found again," Whyte said.

The disappointment of the race was seven-time Group One winner Lucky Nine. Manoeuvred into a perfect position by Brett Prebble, the seven-year-old faded sharply to finish 11th.

Trainer Caspar Fownes said the most puzzling aspect to the failure was that his beloved sprinter had "scoped clean".

"There must be something wrong that hasn't revealed itself though - that obviously wasn't him," Fownes said.