Superstar jockey Joao Moreira has avenged his narrow defeat from 12 months ago in the Group One Longines Hong Kong Vase (2,400m), demolishing a stacked field on Japanese raider Glory Vase at Sha Tin on Sunday.
While Moreira fell just short last year on Lys Gracieux, he made the race his own this time out, having it all but won at the top of the straight.
Jumping from barrier seven, Moreira settled Glory Vase just behind the speed, set by Zac Purton on hot favourite Exultant, before moving into the race with 800m to go.
“I had horses on top of me at the 800m but good horses, if they have a tough situation, they just find a way to get through with it and he wasn’t any different,” Moreira said.
“He kept himself in the gap and then unfortunately just before we turned for home, I was in a trap and I had to ride him for luck, sneak myself inside and hope a gape would come.
“Fortunately it did, when I got the split, I got him there and from the 350m I just knew I was the winner because I had plenty of horse underneath me, he was attacking the horse really good because he’s a good horse, it is a pleasure and we felt it before the race.”
Japanese trainer Tomohito Ozeki said they had targeted the race for sometime with the lightly raced four-year-old.
Sunday’s Vase was just his 10th career start and third in a Group One.
“I’m overwhelmed,” he said.
“The plan was to come here, we’ve been targeting this race because we felt the track would suit him and the owner was happy to come. Winning international races like this, this is my job as a trainer, this is the best.
“Moreira did an amazing job riding the horse. We had a meeting together yesterday and felt good about our chances.”
It was a Japanese quinella with Lucky Lilac running into second place in the shadows of the post.
Ridden by Belgian Christophe Soumillon, Lucky Lilac launched from the rear of the field to get past Exultant.
Of the top seven horses across the line, Exultant, who held on for third was the only one to race in forward half of the field.
His trainer Tony Cruz said his horse was beaten fair and squarely on the day.
“Everyone was kicking up so by the time we hit the first turn we were on the wide side, so we lost a bit of ground there, but all round, no excuses, the winner was too good,” he said.
Despite being heavily backed, Aidan O’Brien’s Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck ($5.4) never looked a winning chance after coming under pressure on the turn.
It continues the recent Japanese domination in the race with Moreira also winning on Satono Crown in 2016.