A primed Rattan has landed one of the upsets of the season, knocking off Hong Kong’s premier speedsters in Sunday’s Group Two Sprint Cup (1,200m).
Mr Stunning and Beat The Clock – winners of the past two 1,200m Group Ones at Sha Tin – were all the rage in betting, jumping at $1.40 and $2.80 respectively, however it turned out to be anything but a two-horse race as they were ripe for the picking.
Richard Gibson’s Rattan was the forgotten runner, starting at $17 despite a strong fourth behind Beauty Generation in the Group One Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1,400m) last start.
The race took on a different look immediately after the start when the likely leader Handsome Bo Bo missed the kick, leaving Zac Purton to roll forward on Mr Stunning with Joao Moreira and Beat The Clock just behind him.
But as the two big guns focused on each other, Chad Schofield had Rattan humming along in the box seat before pulling out in the straight and running over the top of them in the shadows of the post to shock the Sha Tin crowd.
“If we were going to beat those top two horses it would be today with this [five-pound weight] allowance,” Gibson said.
“Maybe they’re not quite at their best, they would have regarded today as a prep race, we were regarding our day today as a Derby.
“So I thought with the five-pound difference we might have the edge on them actually.
“The race panned out perfectly, the top two went against each other, maybe a touch early and our stamina kicked in at the finish.”
Rattan has now won six of his 20 starts, with Schofield in the saddle for 13 of them.
“I am very happy and very happy for the horse, I have won a lot of races on him now, I’ve ridden him right from Class Four to today,” Schofield said.
“For him to beat the two champion sprinters in Hong Kong is unreal, it’s a great feeling.
“Well done to Richard and his team, he planned very well to drop the horse back to a sprinting trip and put the blinkers on him, he kept him extremely fresh for today so full credit to him and his team.
“I knew I was within striking range and when we got to final furlong my horses stamina started to kick in because he has been running over further. We only got there late but out of the three horses, he was strongest on the line.”
Rattan will now head to the Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize where he will clash with the two big guns again, but meets them five pounds worse off.
“Hopefully in that race there can be a lot more tempo than there was today, there wasn’t a lot of speed in the first half, so if there is a bit of speed up front, he will appreciate that and finish even better,” Schofield said.
“It will be a good race but he is a very underrated horse and he keeps flying under the radar, he has done us all proud.”
Purton said Mr Stunning was “disappointing” but didn’t blame his duel with Beat The Clock while Moreira claimed he was happy with his mount’s effort.
“He put on a good fight with the favourite but it is hard when you have to fight one and then you have another one coming and giving you a fight,” he said. “Still, I’m pleased with his run.”