Variety Club was a game winner at Sha Tin on Sunday morning
Gordon Lord Byron finished down the field as South African star Variety Club bagged the Champions Mile at Sha Tin.
Last Updated: 04/05/14 1:15pm
The Tom Hogan-trained Gordon Lord Byron was sharply away but jockey Zac Purton took a pull and settled in behind as Variety Club contested the early lead with Helene Spirit.
As the race began in earnest on the turn for home, Variety Club pushed to the front and began to assert as Gordon Lord Byron tried to make his challenge down the centre of the track.
However, he could not find any extra and it was left to Able Friend to chase home Variety Club, with Mike de Kock's charge running out a four-length winner in the hands of Anton Marcus.
Dan Excel kept on for third while Gordon Lord Byron, who recently won a Group One in Australia, faded out of contention.
Marcus told At The Races: "It's just pure elation - it's hard to put into words right now."
Variety Club was having his first official start for De Kock after running for former trainer Joey Ramsden at Meydan.
De Kock said: "It's huge for us, it's huge for South Africa, it's fantastic for South African breeding."
"He's a super horse and it's just a privilege to work with him.
"Without a really top team behind you this doesn't happen and Trevor (Brown) has been great taking care of the horse while I've been back in South Africa.
Everything went smoothly and that's the most important thing, otherwise we wouldn't be standing here.
"Basically he was in my care in Dubai anyway, so we've just cracked on as normal and it's great for (owner) Markus (Joost), who is a massive player in South African racing.
"I'm privileged to have some really great highlights in my career. We've won the QEII Cup twice and the Hong Kong Cup, so this is right up there with all of them. Musir ran third in this race and this horse is a far better miler than Musir was. We were quietly confident."
The five-year-old is now set to travel to De Kock's Abington Place yard in Newmarket before targeting races in France and America.
"He will go to Mike's yard in Newmarket now for some time off," said the Joost's racing manager, Derek Brugman.
"Ultimately we will probably be thinking about the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp and then probably the Breeders' Cup Mile.
"I'm not sure if he will have a race in England - we'll see how he pulls up but we want to give him a break. The Prix de la Foret is a qualifying race for the Breeders' Cup, so it makes sense to go there."