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Sunday, December 14, 2003


FALBRAV left no doubt that he is and has been the best 2000 metre horse in the world by simply annihilating the field for the Group One Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin today.

He left Rakti, himself an impressive winner of the Group One Champion Stakes in October, floundering in his wake as he quickened two lengths clear at the line. He will now retire to stud in Japan as a true champion with eight Group One victories to his name.

Frankie Dettori was always travelling comfortably on the powerful horse by Fairy King in the midfield and made his move on the outside as they approached the straight. Dettori switched Falbrav to the inside once straightening up for home the horse instantly showed a tremendous burst of speed to fly past the field.

Dettori said: "I was 100% confident even when we were so far back. When I pressed the button, he exploded. I nearly peed myself! It took my breath away, the way he quickened."

"Without a doubt he is the best 2000-metre horse in the world. He is up there with the very best I have ridden. His performance was electric today."

Cumani agreed with his jockey. "He won this like he is the best horse in the world and I am so pleased that he goes out on a winning note. This is one of the very best moments for me, to travel the horse so far and have him in top class form is fantastic."

Michael Jarvis, whose horse was a gallant second but well clear of the rest, said: "He just missed the break and there was a lot of traffic in front. He and the winner went for the same gap and got a little bump but there were no excuses. We will try to come back next year."


1: FALBRAV (Frankie Dettori): "I was 100 per cent confident, even when we were so far back. When I pressed the button he exploded. I nearly peed myself! It took my breath away, the way he accelerated. Without a doubt, he is the best 2000m horse in the world. He's up there with the very best I have ridden. His performance was electric."

Trainer Luca Cumani "It was fantastic. It was almost like watching Seabiscuit."

2: RAKTI (Trainer Michael Jarvis) He just missed the break and there was a lot of traffic in front of him. He and the winner went for the same gap and he got a little bump but there are no excuses. We will try to come back again next year."
(Phillip Robinson) "I got a bit of a bump from Frankie but I was beaten two lengths and it made no difference"

3: ELEGANT FASHION (Gerald Mosse): She ran a beautiful race but the first two were just too good.”

(Trainer David Hayes): That was a truly world class race. She has run very, very well but it's tough to run against that class of horse.”

4: BRIGHT SKY (Dominique Boeuf) " My horse has run very well, but this was a very high class race. I think maybe her run in the Breeders' Cup might have taken a little out of her, and she'd have been even closer if not for that run."

5: SELF FLIT (Weichong Marwing) 'He did some work early and held on very well given that this was a very strong race."

6: DR MORE (Shane Dye). 'He ran right up to his very best. What more can you say.”

7: EISHIN PRESTON (Yuichi Fukunaga): "He had no answer to the others in the homestretch. But I'm happy he has ended his career safely."

8: BLUE STITCH (Douglas Whyte) 'He really tried his best, it was a good, honest run but the others were just too strong."

9: TIGERTAIL (Thierry Gillet) "The track was a bit too quick for her and she couldn't really get any rhythm going."

10: PRECISION (Mick Kinane) " He's been a bit slow to come to hand this year, and we always knew that we were facing an up hill battle with him here."

11: DENON (Corey Nakatani) "He didn't fire today, I think the Japan Cup took the edge off him."

12: WEIGHTLESS (Thierry Thulliez): "One problem was that it was a tough task for a three-year-old against these horses. The other problem was Falbrav."

13: MAGNATEN (Kent Desormeaux): "The horse stumbled at the start and missed the lead so I put him in third position but there was no response from 600m so I couldn't do anything."

14: DANO-MAST (Christophe Soumillon): "There was no kick when it mattered. No power."


Lucky Owners, a Hong Kong-based runner owned by Mr. and Mrs. Leung Kai Fai, trained by Tony Cruz and ridden by Felix Coetzee, registered still another score for the Peoples’ Republic of China Sunday, when he took the lead in deep stretch and drove to a half-length victory in the 12th running of the HK$14-million Hong Kong Mile (G1) at Sha Tin Racecourse.

Another Hong Kong runner, Bowman's Crossing, finished second under Mick Kinane, and Japan’s Lohengrin, the 1.9/1 favourite, was third under Kent Desormeaux. Admire Max, Firebreak, Meridian Star, Telegnosis, Ho Choi, Special Kaldoun, Mister Acpen, Passing Glance, Citizen Kane and Ninetyfive Emperor followed - - while the defending champion, Olympic Express, was pulled up after taking a false step.

Sent off as the second choice at odds of 6.4/1, Lucky Owners completed the 1600-metre distance in 1:34.3. “I didn’t think he was my best chance today, but I was expecting a good run,” Cruz said. “I think he has more improvement to come. I liked how Felix didn’t have to use the whip until (the last) 200 metres.”

“If you look at Lucky Owners’ form, he’s a winner, he’s very gutsy,” said Coetzee. “He just keeps on improving. He relaxed well in the run, sat on the rail, and accelerated very, very well.”

Kinane felt Bowman's Crossing had no excuses, and didn’t need any. “He ran a blinder of a race,” Kinane said. “The winner probably had a slightly better trip on the inside. I couldn’t go any earlier, but that is the way we have to ride him, dropping him in. He finished really strongly.”

Masanori Ito, the trainer of Lohengrin, felt his horse was carried wide on the turn for home, and was a touch tense. “But I am proud of him finishing third,” Ito said.

Less than an hour earlier, the Cruz-Coetzee team had been victorious with the undefeated local star, Silent Witness, in the Hong Kong Sprint (G1). Cruz has now become the first trainer to win a pair of Hong Kong International races on the same day. And Coetzee is the first jockey to do it, as well.

The Hong Kong representatives Olympic Express and Marwing finished one-two in the Mile in 2002, so local horses have now achieved that feat two years in a row. Having gone three-for-four last year, and two-for-three so far this afternoon, Hong Kong horses have now won five of the most recent seven international races.

Lucky Owners is a four-year-old colt by Danehill, arguably the most popular sire in the history of Hong Kong racing. Lucky Owners has now made 11 career starts, every one of which has come at Sha Tin. In his most recent effort prior to the Mile, Lucky Owners registered a photo-finish victory in the International Mile Trial of November 22.

His Hong Kong Mile effort was the first for Lucky Owners in Group company of any level.

Post Race Quotes from THE HONG KONG MILE

1. LUCKY OWNERS (Felix Coetzee): "He travelled well, he was always relaxed. He was on the rail and when he came into the home straight he accelerated very well. He's very gutsy. If you look at his form, he's a winner."

Trainer –– Tony Cruz –– "I didn't think he was my best chance today but I felt he had a good chance all the same. He has more improvement to come as well, too. It was a great ride by Felix, I liked how he didn't use the whip until the 200m."

2. BOWMAN'S CROSSING (Mick Kinane): "He has run a blinder. The winner probably had a slightly better trip on the inside. I couldn't go any earlier, but that is the way we have to ride him, dropping him in. He finished really strongly."

3. LOHENGRIN (Kent Desormeaux): "The horse was carried out turning for home a bit and was a bit tense but I am proud of him finishing third."

4. ADMIRE MAX (Yuichi Fukunaga): " The horse did a good job. The jockey did well but the horse has not won for over two years."

5. FIREBREAK (Frankie Dettori): "He ran well. He has been off for a long time although he runs well fresh. I was only beaten a length or so."

6. MERIDIAN STAR (Gerald Mosse): "The pace was strong and that helped him finish off like he usually does. That's his form."

7. TELEGNOSIS (Masaki Katsuura): The horse looked fine but he could not show true performance."

8. HO CHOI (Christophe Soumillon): "He had a nice position early but he met with trouble when the Singapore horse came back on him.

9. SPECIAL KALDOUN (Dominque Boeuf): "He raced like a tired horse. I think he has had enough."

10 MISTER ACPEN (David Flores): "He didn't break. He lost it at the start."

11: PASSING GLANCE (Martin Dwyer)"He was never going and not at his best. It's been a long year."

12: CITIZEN KANE (Robbie Fradd): "The horse from Singapore took me out. He took me out."

OLYMPIC EXPRESS (Pulled Up) (trainer, Ivan Allan): "Douglas said he felt him take a wrong step and he did the right thing by pulling him up."

Silent Witness proves he is the best in the world

The duel materialised, the hype was justified and Silent Witness, the best horse in Hong Kong, came out on top.

The overwhelming favourite Silent Witness drew out for a length success from National Currency, the much-touted South African challenger, in the HK$10 million Hong Kong Sprint (Gr.1-1000m) to bellowing roars of approval from the huge Sha Tin crowd.

Hong Kong runners Cape Of Good Hope and Firebolt finished third and fourth respectively. Owned by Archie da Silva, trained by Tony Cruz and ridden by Felix Coetzee, it was Silent Witness' eighth win from as many starts.

"There was a lot of pressure but obviously I feel better now, "said Cruz. "He's definitely the best sprinter in the world, and he has proven what he all felt he was capable of. He will stay here for the Champion Sprint Series and, in doing so, try to break the Hong Kong record of ten wins in a row that was achieved by a horse I rode, Co-Tack."

Cruz did not rule sending Silent Witness on overseas missions in the future.

Disputing the early running, Silent Witness, backed into long odds-on at 1.3, and National Currency eyeballed each other through the first 500m of the world's richest five-furlong dash.

"National Currency led me by about a length early on but my horse was always travelling comfortably. As soon as I got upsides at about halfway I knew I had him. Silent Witness just has everything, it's a great privilege to be on one as good as him" Felix Coetzee said.

Jockey on the runner-up, Weichong Marwing said: "He ran his heart out, he ran really well. He just met a better horse. I have no excuses."


1. SILENT WITNESS (Felix Coetzee): "National Currency led me early on but my horse was always travelling comfortably and at half way I knew I had him."

2. NATIONAL CURRENCY (Weichong Marwing): "He ran his heart out, very well, but just met a horse better than him. I have no excuses."

3. CAPE OF GOOD HOPE (Mick Kinane): "It was a great effort. I work him on Friday morning and he felt great and I thought he would finish in the money."

4. FIREBOLT (trainer Ivan Allan): "He ran a good race but the winner was simply too good for us."

5. ACCLAMATION (GB) (Frankie Dettori): "The five furlongs is too sharp for him but he has run a great race and was staying on. He has a nice life ahead of him now."

6. THE TRADER (Kieren Fallon): "He has run well but the ground was too quick for him."

7. THE TATLING (Ryan Moore): " It was a great experience but he was not the same horse today."

8. CHEARFUL FORTUNE (Craig Williams): "It was not his day. He came off the bridle and there was nothing there."

9. INTO THE NIGHT (Darren Beadman); "The were just too sharp. He couldn't match their speed."

10. ALL THRILLS TOO (Gerald Mosse): "He is getting old and tired."

11. GRAND DELIGHT (Shane Dye): "He tried several times to extend his stride and that is four straight times it has been the case."

12. DANTANA (Damien Oliver): "He wasn't good enough and the ground was a bit firm."

13. BOMBER BILL (Steven Arnold): "He race too fresh. He was much closer than I expected early and didn't finish off. The track might have been a bit firm for him."

14. DEPORTIVO (Richard Hughes): "He broke OK but was ring rusty after his lay off."

Tony Cruz (trainer of Silent Witness): "There was a lot pressure but I feel much better now. He will next go for the champion sprint series and try to break the HK record of ten wins in a row.

Michael Azzie (trainer of National Currency): "We had the other horse off the bit at the 400-metre mark. Mine id not go down without a fight but the winner was awesome. He showed real heart and is a true champion.”

Milton Bradley (trainer of The Tatling): "He missed the break but is not quite the horse was in mid-season."

Michael Blanshard (trainer of The Trader): "He was outpaced badly at halfway. He needs further now and some soft ground to slow the others down."

Liam Cashman (owner of Acclamation (GB)): "He found this trip a bit sharp and the ground a bit fast but he has run well. A stiff five furlongs like Ascot would have suited better."


Vallee Enchantee, the only filly in the 14-horse field, found her best stride in deep stretch and registered a driving victory Sunday in the tenth running of the HK$14-million Hong Kong Vase (G1) at Sha Tin Racecourse.

Responding to aggressive, left-handed whipping by jockey Dominique Boeuf, the three-year-old daughter of Peintre Celebre drove from mid-pack to take the lead 50 metres from the finish, ultimately prevailing by three-quarters of a length in a time of 2:28.2 for the 2400-metre distance.

Sent away at odds of 8.1/1, Vallee Enchantee was fourth betting choice, but performed like an odds-on lock. “She took a little time to organize herself, but she’s got a terrific turn of foot and came home well,” Boeuf said “She’s very small, but she’s got a big, big heart."

Another representative from France, Polish Summer, finished second under Christophe Soumillion, and Great Britain’s Warrsan, the 4.2/1 favourite with Philip Robinson aboard, came in third. Completing the order were Roosevelt, Fair Mix, River Dancer, Imperial Dancer, Kalabar, Indian Creek, Red Pepper, Fields of Omagh, Maktub, Industrial Success and Sabiango.

Two hundred metres from the wire, it appeared that Polish Summer might prevail, but he was unable to hold off Vallee Enchantee’s late charge. “I was very happy with Polish Summer’s run,” Soumillon said. “He tried his best. But the filly was very, very strong.”

Clive Brittain, who trains Warrsan, was likewise gracious in defeat. “With another stride, we would have been second,” Brittain said. “But Warrsan gave it a fine run today, and I’m pleased to recognise that.”

Horses representing France have frequently run well in the Vase, which is the longest of the Hong Kong International Races. The French horses, Ange Gabriel and Aquarelliste (the latter also ridden by Boeuf), finished one-two in the race in 2002. Borgia and Bimbola, both also from France, finished one-two in 1999.

Perhaps even more interestingly, Verveine, the dam of Vallee Enchantee, finished second in the Hong Kong Cup in 1993.

Coming into the Vase, Vallee Enchantee had performed well against males before, defeating them this past October in the 2400-metre Prix de Conseil de Paris at Longchamp, which was her most recent start prior to coming to Hong Kong.

Vallee Enchantee had yet, though, to win a Group 1 in any sort of company. “This was her first,” said Boeuf in the Sha Tin winner’s circle. “I don’t think it will be her last, regardless of whether it’s females or male horses she’s taking on.”

Post Race Quotes
HK$14million HONG KONG VASE (Gr.1-2400m)

Jockey Dominque Boeuf: "She took a little time to organize herself but she has got a terrific turn of foot and came home well. She is very small but she has got a big, big heart. That was her first Group 1 win against the colts, but hopefully not her last."

Owner Alec Wildenstein: "She was quite a long way back but the pace was quite even. Dominique had a good hold on her and came wide as I told him to, I didn't want him to come up the inner. Her mother Verveine second in the Hong Kong Cup 10 years ago and it's an amazing thing for a breeder to achieve."

Jockey Christophe Soumillon: "I was very happy with the horse, he ran good, but in the end it was France's day anyway."

Trainer Clive Brittain: "He has run a blinder, another stride and he would have been second and Philip agreed. I had to be easy on his work as he lost 12kgs in the flight and I wasn't able to put the weight back him. That was his best run since the Coronation Cup in June."

Jockey Mick Kinane: "That was a great run from a horse off one preparation. I thought I would win at the 200m but he just got tired.

Trainer David Oughton: "He will be a nice horse for the Hong Kong Derby next year."

Jockey Gerald Mosse: "He finished well. I lost a bit of ground on the turn and it was going to be hard from there."

Jockey Shane Dye: "He had every chance."

Jockey Ted Durcan: "He ran home. He needs a strongly run ten furlongs, not a fairly slowly run mile and a half."

Trainer Mick Channon: "No excuses. He has run his race but it was hard from that wide draw to get a position early. With a little luck in running he might have been closer but we could have done with more pace in the race."

Jockey Thierry Thulliez: "I think the ground was a bit too fast for him."

Jockey Richard Quinn: "I was niggling at him from the start. He is like that, though. They didn't go that fast and when they do that the horses in front don't come back to you."

Jockey Douglas Whyte: "He had a perfect position, perfect trip. It was actually quite a solid run in that company."

Jockey Steven King: "I'm not convinced he runs a mile and a half. That could be proven wrong but with his natural speed I think he is best suited from a mile to a mile and a quarter."

Jockey Frankie Dettori: "He ran flat. Never there."

Jockey Jamie Spencer: "Just wasn't good enough."

Jockey Eddy Pedroza: "He travelled okay in front and when the other horses came to him there was nothing there. It was first time in blinkers, he was disappointing."

For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive

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