Five years to the day since his “greatest thrill in racing”, trainer Paul O’Sullivan again experienced success with jockey Zac Purton by landing a timely double at Sha Tin.
The pair teamed up to win the Group One Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1,200m) at Chukyo in 2015 with Aerovelocity and the affable Kiwi couldn’t help but think back to the famous victory while watching the 2020 edition of the race on Sunday.
“It was five years ago today, it was probably my biggest thrill in racing,” he said. “It was all about the people, Zac [Purton], [owner] Daniel Yeung Ngai and his wife.
“I have travelled a lot of horses around the world in my life and there is nothing better than winning on the road and nothing tougher than losing on the road.
“I was watching it today and I can remember exactly where I watched it, it will be a memory that lasts a long time.”
Like his effort to win aboard Band Of Brothers at Sha Tin on Sunday, Purton produced a perfect ride to lift Aerovelocity to victory in 2015.
“He looked beaten on the corner, I turned to Daniel and said ‘not today’ and then Zac switched onto the different ground and away he went, that was a great thrill,” O’Sullivan remembered.
The win of Band Of Brothers in the Class Three Pak Tin Handicap (1,600m) capped off a strong day for O’Sullivan and notched up his 22nd win of the season, making it all but certain he will better last season’s effort of 25.
Aerovelocity (HK trained,NZ Bred)— Quote (@Quote987) March 27, 2020
He is 2015 Takamatsunomiya Kinen winner.
He is the last another country horse who won Japanese race. pic.twitter.com/RNEbpn8J1q
The five-year-old has been a model of consistency since starting his career last season and O’Sullivan believes he can make his presence felt in Class Two.
“He is a very honest horse, he just does what he has to do to win, which is what he did today. It’s good because it keeps the handicapper at bay a bit,” he said.
“He goes back into Class Two but he will have a reasonable weight on his back, the handicapper will get him eventually but he has done a great job.”
All of Band Of Brothers’ five wins have come under Purton with the 83-rater likely to be pushing 90 after Sunday’s effort.
He was given a gun ride by Purton, who was locked up on the rail behind a wall of horses approaching the turn before patiently waiting for gaps to open as others went by the wayside.
“He was a little bit stiff his last start, he was right in it, today must have just been right day, right jockey,” O’Sullivan said.
“He just always puts in, a couple of time when he has been rolled, he has had genuine excuses in running, caught wide and what not.”
Band Of Brothers rounded out a double for Purton and O’Sullivan, who also combined with Grade One earlier in the day.
The 30-start veteran relished a drop into Class Four and delivered accordingly for punters who sent him out a $3.90 chance.
While he has been able to perform strongly up in class, all five of his career victories have come in Class Four, leading O’Sullivan to declare him a “Class Four-and-a-half horse”.
“There are a lot of horses like that, Starship and those horses, you have to go through the motions with them, keep them sound and turn up on the day, they will do the job,” he said.
“A horse like Sonic Fighter is the same, he can run well in Class Three but get them to Class Four and that’s where they win.”