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Lord Derby (right) celebrates Ouija Board's win in the Hong Kong Vase.
Along with the Hong Kong Cup, there are 3 other Group 1 events on the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races card worth nearly $5 million (U.S.) total.
The Group 1 Hong Kong Vase saw a stellar group of twelve older horses going for the winner's share of the $1.8 million (U.S.) purse, including 2004 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Ouija Board, who finished 2nd in the 2005 edition at Belmont Park two starts back.
Ouija Board winning easily in the 2005 Hong Kong Vase.
Winning jockey Kieren Fallon said, "She was unlucky in Japan. She came too soon but we got the splits today and won well. She has a lot of speed and acceleration. She's looked after me yet again."
Winning trainer Ed Dunlop said, "It was a difficult first half of the season but all's well now. I was cursing him (Fallon) during the race, worried that he was in the wrong position but he got it right."
Winning owner Lord Derby said, "Absolutely fantastic. She's now won on three continents. Thank you Cathay Pacific! We'll see how she travels back to Europe before we discuss her future plans. It's sad that it's too late for her to be Horse of the Year."
Natural Blitz winning the 2005 Hong Kong Sprint.
Nicole's Dream and jockey Ed Baird were quickest out of the gate, and just a furlong out she was out on the lead as expected, getting that initial 1/8 mile in 13.30. However, entering the main part of the course she quickly dropped out of contention as the locals charged to the front. Natural Blitz grabbed the lead with half a mile to go and never looked back, powering away to a 1 3/4 length win over Planet Ruler in a time of 57.60. It was 1/2 a length back to Able Prince in third, who nosed out Country Music, completing a top-four sweep in the race for Hong Kong-based runners. Nicole's Dream finished last, beaten 9 1/4 lengths.
Winning jockey Glyn Schofield said, "I was surprised there was so little in the pressure in the race. I guess a lot of the field thought they were going to get a trail off me because he hasn't been so strong in the final 200m before. But he was today! He was able fill the tank a bit while in front and he finished strongly."
Winning trainer Derek Cruz said, "It's my first Group One winner and I'm very, very proud. He is a small horse and the key with him has not been to overwork him. I thought his last run was good when he was over on the far rail and the plan today was to drift to the center of the track and Glyn did it perfectly."
Hat Trick winning the 2005 Hong Kong Mile.
Winning jockey Olivier Peslier said, "He's really good. Today's race was quite similar to when he won the Mile Championship at Kyoto. I just wanted to take my time and produce him on the outside because he is better when going around horses. I was always confident when he broke well and he quickened up really very well."
Winning trainer Katsuhiko Sumii said, "Thanks to the jockey Peslier, I am very happy to win. Peslier knows the horse's nature and he can bring his potential very well. His next start has not yet been determined, but we will do our best every time we have a chance to race. It was a great race and my horse showed very good performance in the stretch."
On to the Hong Kong Cup results
Photos courtesy of Hong Kong Jockey Club.
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