Japan dominate HKIR at Sha Tin

HONG KONG, HONG KONG - APRIL 28 : Jockey Masami Matsuoka riding Japanese horse Win Bright wins Race 8 The FWD Queen Elizabeth II Cup (Group 1) at Sha Tin Racecourse on April 28, 2019 in Hong Kong.   (Photo by Lo Chun Kit /Getty Images)
Image: Win Bright won at Sha Tin again

It was a fantastic day for Japan at the Hong Kong International Races as they took three of the four Group One contests at Sha Tin.

Bright win for Japan in Cup

It was a stunning day for Japanese racing at the Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin as Win Bright capped a memorable meeting in the Longines Hong Kong Cup.

Fellow Japanese raiders Glory Vase (Hong Kong Vase) and Admire Mars (Hong Kong Mile) had already prevailed by the time Yoshihiro Hatakeyama's Win Bright held on from the fast finishing Magic Wand in a thrilling finish to the Cup.

Ryan Moore didn't get the best of passages on the Aidan O'Brien-trained globetrotter, with Win Bright better positioned under Masami Matsuoka as he followed up his win at the track in the QEII Cup.

Hatakeyama said: "When he arrived here he wasn't doing that well, but he thrived as the week went on and showed how much he prefers a right-handed course.

"It's been a great day for Japan and if he is invited he'll be back for another shot at the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in April."

Glory for Japan in Hong Kong Vase

Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck was well beaten as Glory Vase ran out an emphatic winner of the Longines Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin.

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Ryan Moore stalked favourite Exultant for much of the way on Aidan O'Brien's charge, but found little in the straight, where strong-travelling Japanese raider Glory Vase got the perfect split to come with a power-packed run and lead a furlong out.

Powering on from there, the Joao Moreira-ridden four-year-old quickly put distance between himself and the rest of the field.

Fellow Japanese runner Lucky Lilac chased the son of Deep Impact home, with Exultant third and Deirdre - winner of the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood in the summer - fourth under Oisin Murphy.

Winning trainer Tomohito Ozeki said: "I'm overwhelmed. Moreira did an amazing job riding the horse.

"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 said: "I had horses on top of me at the 800 metres, but good horses, if they face a tough situation, they just go through with it and he wasn't any different.

"He just kept himself in the gap and just before we turned for home I was kind of trapped and had to ride for luck. I sneaked on the inside and hoped the gap would come. Fortunately it did.

"When I got the gap he just dashed from the 350 (metres) and I knew I was the winner because I had plenty of horse underneath me and he was just attacking the line as a really good horse would."

True Self was seventh for Willie Mullins, with Young Rascal (William Haggas) in ninth, Prince Of Arran (Charlie Fellowes) 11th, Anthony Van Dyck 12th, Aspetar (Roger Charlton) 13th and Mount Everest (O'Brien) last of the 14 starters.

Charlton said of his runner: "He was too keen and used himself too much in the early part of the race."

Magic Man stars on Beat The Clock

Joao Moreira timed it to perfection aboard Beat The Clock to claim the Longines Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin.

It looked like everything had gone to plan in the six-furlong affair for red-hot favourite Aethero, who charged to the front under Zac Purton and still led a furlong out.

But his stride began to shorten as the post loomed and he was swamped with 50 yards to run, with the John Size-trained Beat The Clock finishing best of all and Hot King Prawn edging Aethero for second.

It was a second Group One win on the card for Brazilian ace Moreira, as the 'Magic Man' also lifted the Vase through Japanese raider Glory Vase.

Size said: "His strength is his character, with a tremendous will to win and fighting spirit. He saves his energy for raceday and gives you everything he's got.

"It's really humbling to see him do that. There are some Group Ones here in Hong Kong and the next one at the end of January will be on his agenda."

Moreira added: "He wasn't fast enough from the gate, but turning for home I felt I had plenty in my hands and that the way he was coming he was going to win.

"I've been associated with this horse for a long time and am proud he's proved he's the best sprinter today."

Plenty to admire in Mile

A new name was etched on the Longines Hong Kong Mile trophy as Admire Mars struck another notable blow for Japan, holding on from Waikuku to deny Moreira a treble.

Much attention surrounded Beauty Generation, the winner for the last two years, and his supporters had reason to be happy as he tracked Ka Ying Star and still looked full of running two furlongs out.

However, the warning signs quickly appeared with a furlong and a half to go and he was unable to resist the charge of Admire Mars and Christophe Soumillon, who in turn just had enough to hold Waikuku, with Beauty Generation having to settle for third.

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