Jenny - Clean

VIVA PATACA is without doubt one of the greatest racehorses ever to have graced the Hong Kong turf.

Following the recent announcement of his retirement after a glorious career that’s spanned six seasons, Hong Kong racegoers will now have their own opportunity to bid the departing hero farewell.

A special presentation ceremony will take place at Sha Tin racecourse on Sunday when connections of the great horse will be thanked for their contributions to his achievements.

After Race Four Viva Pataca, with jockey Darren Beadman in the saddle wearing owner Dr Stanley Ho Hung Sun’s familiar colours, will be paraded for the last time before his faithful fans.

The highest stakes winner in Hong Kong racing history, with career earnings of HK$83,197,500, Viva Pataca was Champion Middle Distance Horse for three years in succession in 2006/07, 2007/08 and 2008/09; Champion Stayer in 2005/06, 2007/08 and 2008/09, and Horse Of The Year in 2008/09.

He was winner of the HKG1 Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby in 2006, twice winner of the HKG1 Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup in 2008 and 2009, and showed his class at the highest international level with two victories in the G1 Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2007 and 2010), besides taking runner-up spot from a wide draw in what was then the equal richest turf race in the world, the 2008 Dubai Sheema Classic.

But the race which perhaps best exemplified his astonishing durability and consistency was the HKG1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup, which he contested six years in a row with a record of three victories in 2006, 2007 and 2009, and placings in each of his other three outings in Hong Kong racing’s major stamina test.

“He did the stable proud in every way,” says trainer John Moore, “and he’ll be sorely missed by everyone who’s had anything to do with him. He had perfect conformation but he wasn’t an easy horse to train.

"In fact he’s always been very quirky, and it took two mafoos to look after him because he has such a volatile temperament. But I’ve always found that every real champion has a bit of aggression about him, and he’s been the greatest I’ve trained so far without any doubt at all.”

Darren Beadman, Viva Pataca’s partner in so many of his greatest triumphs, is equally effusive.

“When I first came to Hong Kong to work for John, he was the star of the stable and already one of the stars of Hong Kong racing; and I’d have to say he was the horse who helped me climb the ladder here. He was such a consistent performer. He never put in a bad race. So athletic too. So light on his feet. He really enjoyed his trackwork as well as his racing, and in all my association with the horse he never once let me down.

Asked to compare “Viva”, who came to Hong Kong as a three-year-old from England where he’d been trained by Sir Mark Prescott, with some of the superstars he’s ridden back home in Australia, Beadman added.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have ridden some who were champions of their eras, and I never like to say any one of them was the best because I don’t want to belittle the others. But he’d be up there with the likes of Lonhro and Super Impose and the rest of them for sure, and there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that if he’d been based in Australia he would have been a weight for age champion.”

Hong Kong Jockey Club Executive Director of Racing William A Nader added his own tribute: “Viva Pataca is one of the great horses in the history of racing. Every major racing country is graced with a superstar horse from time to time. Some display brilliance in big races over a period of two or three years, but few can duplicate the success of Viva Pataca by sustaining that level of excellence over such a long career.”




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