A contender for ride of the season by Chad Schofield stole the Centenary Vase and capped Supreme Profit’s career resurrection from a colic surgery survivor languishing in Class Five to Group Three victor.
Sensing a slowing pace approaching the turn with 1,100m to go, Schofield whipped around the small field from third last to take the lead.
From there Danny Shum Chap-shing’s six-year-old showed enough tenacity to stick on for a one length win that wouldn’t have happened without Schofield’s initiative.
“I got a real buzz out of that,” Schofield said later, the win his 17th for the season and providing some much-needed momentum after he missed most of December through suspension.
Even though the 1,800m race lacked some pace on paper, Schofield said it wasn’t a premeditated move to take control of the race the way he did.
“Actually, the plan was to have him third or fourth just behind the leaders, but I had ridden him a couple of times before, I think he was maybe my second or third ride in Hong Kong on my first day, and I had studied his videos,” he said.
“The main thing was that I knew that he was going well and I knew how well he stays.
“So when they were going so slow I thought he was no chance of out-sprinting some of those quality horses in the race, so his best chance was if he could be in front of them with the light weight and staying on.
“That’s how it worked out and I think if the race had been another 200m they wouldn’t have picked him up.”
The win marked Shum’s first Group race success since Little Bridge triumphed at Royal Ascot in the King’s Stand Stakes more than four-and-a-half years ago and comes after Circuit Land was narrowly beaten in the Group Three January Cup last month at Happy Valley.
It was also an extraordinary training effort from Shum, to take a horse that nearly died just weeks after being purchased at the Hong Kong International Sale to Group Three winner at start 36.
“He was nearly put down, the vet team saved him, usually when you do a surgery you have to call the owner and get a signature on a document, but with him the vet called me and said ‘Danny, we have to do the surgery right now, we can’t wait – just tell the owner’. It was a big emergency, without them the horse would have died,” Shum said.
“He couldn’t race for 12 months, and then he was really fat. He is a big horse anyway, and hard to keep weight off, so you can imagine how fat he was after not racing for that long. He was like a big, soft baby, it was unbelievable.”
Supreme Profit also notched another piece of history when he held off Basic Trilogy and Romantic Touch; a first Group race win for a purchase by Hong Kong International Sale executive manager Mark Richards.
“I was involved in buying Pleasure Gains with Mark Player, we were both in Deauville then, and he went on to win the January Cup, but this is the first on my own, and I’m chuffed,” said Richards, who paid A$320,000 for the son of Encosta De Lago in 2012.
Supreme Profit is out of Sun Song, a three-quarter sister to 2000 Hong Kong Mile winner Sunline, and was resold at the first session of the then twice-yearly 2012-13 HKIS for HK$3.3 million to William Yem Wai-lai.
“I still remember buying him – he was just a real big, backward horse that was always going to need time, but I was taken by him,” Richards said.
“You can still see it now, he’s got a huge constitution to him, he always carries a fair amount of condition but he’s also got his heart in the right place.”