Jenny - Clean


TOP trainer John Moore and leading owner Stanley Ho were over the moon when their star galloper, VIVA PATACA, was named Hong Kong Horse of the Year for 2008-09.

“I am very delighted my horse, Viva Pataca, has been voted Horse of the Year after waiting for four years,” said a proud Mr Ho, breaking with a long-standing tradition of giving his acceptance speech in English rather than Cantonese.

"I'd like to thank my many supporters, the Hong Kong Jockey Club, my trainer John Moore and all his staff,” said Mr Ho, who has finally erased the pain of Viva Pataca’s surprise defeat by Vengeance of Rain for Horse of the Year honors in 2007.

There was even further reason for the all-conquering team of Ho and Moore to celebrate with seven-time Group One winner Viva Pataca also winning the annual awards for Champion Middle Distance Horse and Champion Stayer.

For Moore, it was something of a consolation prize after Caspar Fownes wrenched the trainers' title from his grasp, but the Australian horseman was still thrilled his all-time favorite Viva Pataca had finally been properly acknowledged.

"It's been long overdue," Moore said. "He's always been my hero but not been a public hero like some others. Probably the reason for that is he missed out winning the big race in Dubai [second in the 2008 Dubai Sheema Classic], which would have given him the Horse of the Year title at that time. I think as a result he fell back in comparison to other horses as far as the public was concerned.

"(This time) the votes were in his favor and I want to say thanks to all concerned, and to Dr Ho for giving us the budget that allowed us to get a horse of this calibre. It's been a magical trip and it's not over yet - we've still got next season with him."

Moore then threw out a bold tip for the 2010 award: "I'm looking forward to next year and hopefully Collection being Horse of the Year."

Collection won this year's Hong Kong Derby brilliantly from Thumbs Up but was then unplaced in the Champions Mile and third in the Champions & Chater Cup in May to Viva Pataca.

The outstanding stayer did not emerge with a clean sweep, however, as members of the public voted for SACRED KINGDOM ahead of him as the Most Popular Horse. With more than 190,000 votes registered, Sacred Kingdom held a margin over Viva Pataca of 2,634 votes.

Last year's Horse of the Year, Good Ba Ba, was again named Champion Miler, while Sacred Kingdom again got the nod as Champion Sprinter. All three star gallopers retained their places in the official World Thoroughbred Rankings.

Caspar Fownes was crowned Hong Kong’s Champion Trainer for a second time, Douglas Whyte won his ninth Champion Jockey Award and Matthew Chadwick was Champion Apprentice after posting a new record of 43 wins.

Despite giving away a huge start after on-line voting ceased, Whyte rallied strongly to narrowly beat Brett Prebble as the Most Popular Jockey registering 65,735 votes to Prebble's 65,441.

An indication of the interest in the annual awards was the HKJC report of a record 380,418 votes from the public for the two awards, an increase of 22 per cent on the total in 2008.


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