Longines Hong Kong Sprint winner Peniaphobia was part of a stellar afternoon for trainer Tony Cruz in winning the Group Three Sha Tin Vase (1,200m) but the win was probably far more valuable for jockey Matthew Chadwick.
Chadwick had missed more than four months of the season between October and February after a barrier mishap left him with damaged cruciate ligaments in his right knee requiring surgery.
Since his return, Chadwick had struggled to gain traction, with only three wins, but the perfectly executed Group Three win was good for both his confidence and his bottom line.
“It has been difficult to get wins so it’s nice to get one and to get one in a Group race is an extra bonus,” said Chadwick.
Peniaphobia had been well beaten behind Chautauqua in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize early in the month but had been part of a torrid lead pace and returned with a dirty scope afterwards. Fit and well yesterday, Peniaphobia always had good control after sitting behind the speedy Fabulous One in running and started the ball rolling for a career-best five wins on a single day for Cruz as he relegated odds-on favourite Amazing Kids to second.
Amazing Kids (Joao Moreira) had beaten Peniaphobia by almost five lengths in the Chairman’s Sprint and loomed as the winner at the 200m but couldn’t peg back the margin.
“There were reasons for Peniaphobia’s run last time – firstly the pace but also he had a level two mucus,” Chadwick said. “I guess I was still a little disappointed with him because we know he’s a proven top class horse but this was an easier race, he was in better condition and I thought the only one I was worried about was the runner-up. He looked better than the others. After he worked well the other day and pulled up clean, I knew he had to run well.”
Crucial to the successful outcome was Chadwick letting the leader Fabulous One go and getting a tow into the race rather than being under pressure to chase the lightly weighted frontrunner.
“The horse in front went so fast that it turned out to be a good pacemaker for us,” said Cruz afterwards.“Matthew was able to just track him and everything went according to plan. It was a perfect race.”
Chadwick said he just wanted to keep Peniaphobia going smoothly, wherever he was in running.
“I didn’t have a plan to lead or not lead because he’s versatile – he’s won leading, sitting behind the lead or even from back in the field,” he said. “But he did have a paralysis on one side of his throat last year and the main thing with that sort of issue is keeping him travelling smoothly.”
The win finishes Peniaphobia’s successful season, with an international third in Dubai between his Hong Kong Sprint and Sha Tin Vase wins. With only races beyond 1,200m left in the terms for a horse of Peniaphobia’s rating, Cruz said he would spell and return to racing in October with the defence of his December international title the main target.