After Brett Prebble and Contentment had claimed a dramatic Champions Mile and set up a rematch with Beauty Only in Tokyo next month, the jockey admitted his season had been a little bit like Contentment’s – there was a Group One there, it was just a case of getting it out.
The shocking injury that later took Rapper Dragon’s life left the race itself flat and anticlimactic but the bizarre circumstances of the event turned the John Size-trained Contentment back into a winner after most had written him off as past his use by date and sent him out at 25-1.
Tried in blinkers for the first time in his lead-up, Contentment had run a rare poor race after spending most of the campaign one to two lengths away from the winners in Group One events.
Often forced into the unwanted role of leader recently, he had a stroke of luck when Karis Teetan was unable to hold fierce-going British visitor Stormy Antarctic in the slow early pace and let him run to the lead.
“He’s a quirky horse Contentment. It’s his second Group One and you know he’s always got it there but it’s just hard to get that performance out of him,” Prebble said.
“I had asked John for a while to put blinkers on him because I thought he would be better in them and he was terrible. He just didn’t go at all last start. So they came back off today and obviously he’d saved his energy last time with a poor run and he was able to bounce back.
“But a lot happened differently today too. When Stormy Antarctic took off around to lead, that gave Contentment a bunny to chase, which he hasn’t had for a while. When Helene Paragon went early too, Contentment had one on his outside to chase as well and enjoyed it. A bit like Contentment, I don’t think I’ve had a bad season at all but I have been looking for a highlight.”
Zac Purton, on runner-up Beauty Only, fired in a protest against the winner but it looked optimistic at best and was quickly dismissed, leaving Size with a third win in the race and he said the little bit of give to Sunday’s track after light drizzle in the morning had played a role.
“I don’t think his form has been bad at all anyway,” Size said. “He has been getting beaten a length and a half all season in Group Ones and that’s his place in life but every now and then the luck bounces his way and he can win – it isn’t his first Group One so we know he’s got it. He’s done nothing wrong. He’ll go to Japan now assuming the owner wants to go. He failed there last year but you can’t convict him on one race.”
Tony Cruz said that Hong Kong Mile winner and runner-up this time, Beauty Only is also in line for the Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo.
“I think he handled the ground fine today but he just didn’t get clear running when he wanted it,” Cruz said. “I think he was the better horse today and would have won. If Contentment is going to Japan, I think Beauty Only should go too. All I have to do is convince the owner.”
Tommy Berry came third with the John Moore-trained Helene Paragon and said he too might have won the race in different circumstances.
“I’ve ridden him a few times and he’s normally quite laid back so I’ve made even earlier moves on him before and won. But John took all his head gear off today, the hood and the crossed nose band, and when he sprinted he surprised me at how quickly he went,” Berry said.
“I went way too early and he couldn’t sustain the run the last 100m but that was the reason why. He ran terrific. Obviously we’ll have to look at how we ride him now because he was a different horse with the head gear off.”