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Silvestre de Sousa celebrates after winning the Hong Kong Cup aboard Glorious Forever.
The Longines Hong Kong International Races are the richest horse races run in Hong Kong, and is the last major race day for Thoroughbred flat racing anywhere in the world. Billed as the "Turf World Championships", four Group 1 races were contested on Sunday afternoon over the right-handed 1 3/16 mile turf course at Sha Tin Racecourse. Conditions were unusually chilly for December in this subtropical city, with a good turf course, cloudy skies, and temperatures in the high 50's, with 96,388 fans in attendance, setting a new handle record of HK$1.605 billion (US$205 million). For the first time in the races' history, locally-trained horses swept all four events. Hong Kong Jockey Club CEO Winfried Englebrecht-Bresges said, "If you look at the quality of horses we have seen today, we have to be very satisfied. We had 21 individual G1 winners and seven horses rated 120 or above; Japan sent a very strong team of nine contenders and we are extremely happy that we have again attracted horses from some of the world's top class trainers, like Sir Michael Stoute, Aidan O'Brien and Andre Fabre, and global giants like Godolphin, the Aga Khan and Juddmonte. Offering world-class sport is essential to help racing grow and one of the innovations that is coming out of this tremendous commingling turnover is that we will have the World Pool invested here in Hong Kong, which shows the liquidity we have in our pools and the confidence in our technology."
In the main event, a field of 9 older horses contested the HK$28 million (US$3.6 million) Longines Hong Kong Cup (G1) at 2000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) on the turf. Dubai Turf 3rd place finisher Deirdre was sent off as the 9-5 favorite off wins in the Queen Stakes (G3) and the Fuchu Himba (G2). In to challenge her included 2-1 second choice Sungrazer, winner of the Sapporo Kinen (G2) then second in the Tenno Sho Autumn (G1), and 4-1 third choice and defending champion Time Warp but 9th in the Jockey Club Cup (G2) last out.
Jockey Silvestre de Sousa sent 13-2 Glorious Forever to the lead first time by and he set easy fractions of 25.88, 50.66, 1:14.62, and 1:38.71 while pressed by Time Warp and stalked by 17-1 Northern Superstar. At the top of the lane, Glorious Forever continued to lead. Favorite Deirdre, 5th early under Christophe Lemaire, came out for room and put in a strong late rally but to no avail as Glorious Forever easily held her off by a length for the win in 2:01.71. It was another 1/4 length back to Time Warp third.
# Horse Jockey Win Place 8 Glorious Forever De Sousa 15.60 4.30 9 Deirdre Lemaire 2.70 2 Time Warp Purton 3.60 Winning Time: 2:01.71 $1 Quinella 8-9 10.55 $1 Trifecta 8-9-2 104.10Results Chart from HKJC with video replay
Left: Glorious Forever in the winner's circle after the Hong Kong Cup. Winning trainer Frankie Lor said, "This is special. Yes today is amazing for me, I can't believe it. For me, it's my dream to get more good horses and win the big races and to win these two races today is amazing. I talked to Silvestre yesterday and said ‘if he jumped good try to take the lead and if Time Warp pushed too hard then he could take the sit behind him'. We drew one and Time Warp seven so that made a difference."
Right: Glorious Forever poses informally with his connections.
Left: Glorious Forever gets a pat on the head by jockey Silvestre de Sousa. De Sousa said, "Everything was in my favour, the draw was perfect for riding a horse who could be one or two in the run. Everything went to the plan. I didn't want to overdo it in front but to make sure Time Warp didn't come around, I had to make sure we were going a true gallop. I won the battle for the first 300 metres and I was going so well at the 800 (metres), I thought to myself they would have to be very good to pick him up; it would have to be one of the Europeans because I didn't think Time Warp would come again."
Right: All the connections and officials pose with the trophy and winner's banner after the trophy presentation for the Hong Kong Cup.
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Deirdre returns to the unsaddling area. Jockey Christophe Lemaire said, "She ran very good. It was a good pace and she was very relaxed all the way around. She picked up very well and has a long acceleration, giving all at the finish. Well done to the winner as he made the running and never gave up. The best horse won today."
Right: Third place finisher Time Warp enters the track for the post parade. Trainer Tony Cruz said, "The other horse was really shoving up to get the lead and Zac said he couldn't beat him for speed so sat second. We tried to go to the front but when he couldn't there was no point pushing him." Jockey Zac Purton added, "It was a good race – he has run really well. I was proud of him."
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