SUNDAY'S crucial Cathay Pacific International Mile and Sprint Trials demonstrated that Hong Kong horses are going to take the power of beating when the Turf World Championships roll around on December 13.

Fellowship (Paul O'Sullivan/Zac Purton) gained a deserved day in the sun taking out the Cathay Pacific International Mile Trial from Sight Winner and the fast finishing defending international champion, Good Ba Ba.

If anything, better was to follow when Happy Zero (John Moore/Darren Beadman) defeated Sacred Kingdom, the world's joint-highest ranked speedster, by a widening two-length margin in the Cathay Pacific International Sprint Trial.

First to the Mile Trial, won by Fellowship, a horse that so often has had to play the bridesmaid role in major races.

On this occasion he settled in midfield for Zac Purton before unleashing a decisive kick at the top of the straight to win by three-parts of a length.

"He has been a very honest performer and he has competed at the top level for a season and a half now but he has often found one or two too good for him on the big day. Today, though, he got a nice run under Zac, the pace was good and he deserved a big win," trainer Paul O'Sullivan said.

"But we have to remember that he had a 5lbs allowance today from the second and third horses and he has to match them at set weights next month. The main thing for now is he has earned his place in the international field. I don't know if he'll get the thick end of the prize then, but he should get some stake money."

Good Ba Ba, the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile winner for the past two years, stayed on well with the fastest final sectional time (23.03 sec) into third to mirror his finish in the same race 12 months ago.

"I'm delighted with that run, it was a great trial," Good Ba Ba's trainer Derek Cruz said.

"He had a lot to do at the tail of the field with the way the race was run and he finished off really well. Olivier [Doleuze, jockey] was also thrilled so he looks right on course for the big one."

Thirty-five minutes later Happy Zero announced himself as potentially Hong Kong's next international star with a colossal win in the Sprint Trial.

Racing in midfield on the rails for Darren Beadman – relieved to have chosen the right horse for his retained stable after some painful recent reverses in big races – Happy Zero, the 9/10 favourite, only found clear running inside the furlong before screaming past Sacred Kingdom, who momentarily looked to have the race at his mercy just inside the furlong marker.

"I was held up and I saw Sacred Kingdom getting a run on me, but I knew once he got the split he would explode and that he did. Once you have this horse wound up he goes through the gears pretty quick," Beadman enthused.

"I don't remember ever being on a horse with as long a stride and that includes [former Australian champion] Saintly who was a much bigger and longer horse. This guy covers an enormous amount of ground and he's very exciting."

Moore added that Happy Zero would take plenty of beating in a Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint shaping up as the definitive sprint championship of the year.

"I don't think I'll be doing very much with him between now and 13 December. He's a very fit horse at the moment and I believe we're a big chance of winning next month.

"I think he's the new kid on the block and I don't want to take anything away from Sacred Kingdom, a world champion, but sometimes you have to give way to the next generation and I believe this is the one."

Last year's CXHK Sprint champion, Inspiration, had been sent for scoping in the wake of a sub-par performance, Moore added.

The fields for the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races will be announced at 6.15pm at Happy Valley racecourse on Wednesday, November 25.




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