THE evergreen Viva Pataca became the highest money earner in the history of Hong Kong racing when he scored a stunning win in the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday.

The win was an 18th career victory for the John Moore trained eight-year-old; his 13th win in Hong Kong; his 8th Group 1; his second in this race and took his total prize-money earnings to HK$80,232,500 eclipsing the HK$75,410,500 mark set by the 2005 APQEII cup winner Vengeance Of Rain.


Earlier Moore had also won the Champions Mile with Able One and the performances of Hong Kong’s stars was a further bonus on a day which saw turnover climb to HK$1.085 billion – a significant rise on HK$912 million in 2009. It was the 10th time turnover had topped $1 billion this season and today’s turnover generated HK$124 million in betting duty paid to the Government, with the remaining HK$47 million retained by the Club as operating expenses.

“We saw a wonderful day’s racing with excellent turnover and again the performances of Viva Pataca and Able One demonstrated that we have racing of a world class standard here in Hong Kong,” said HKJC Chief Executive Officer Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges.

“I want to congratulate all involved with Viva Pataca on his record and I was also pleased to see Lizard’s Desire run so well coming off his Dubai World Cup second on a different surface. It shows that international racing is developing and that major races can be linked to each other in various part of the world,” Engelbrecht-Bresges said.

William A Nader, Executive Director of Racing, continued with the international theme. “We are now likely to see the top four from the Champions Mile go on to the Yasuda Kinen in Japan and from a local point of view it was good to see emerging horses like Beauty Flash and Super Satin run so well,’ he said.

Viva Pataca has earned HK$72.45 million (including HK$2 million in bonus) on Hong Kong soil and further HK$7.78 million overseas – a tally boosted by his second placing in the 2008 Sheema Classic in Dubai.

However, it is at home where he has won the hearts of racing fans with continued performances at the top level. He completed a remarkable double for his trainer John Moore given that Able One had earlier won the Champions Mile.

The same two horses had, of course, completed the same double in 2007. While repeat wins in major races are not unusual it is rare if not unparalleled for the feat to be achieved three years apart.

Viva Pataca placed in fourth spot and in touch with the Japanese leader Never Bouchon who crawled through the first 1200m in one minute 18.2 seconds. He loomed up to the leaders on straightening and zoomed home the last 400m in 22.19 seconds which gave the backmarkers no chance of overhauling him.

Lizard’s Desire and Super Satin, filled the placings, coming from midfield and finishing just ahead of the front-runner Never Bouchon.

It was Marwing’s second APQEII Cup win after his success in 2006 aboard Irridescence. “It’s been a great training feat from John and his stable to produce this horse to win this race again after a gap of three years,” he said.

Winning trainer John Moore was delighted that the horse he describes as his favourite was able to take another major prize and his place in history. “He has broken the Hong Kong prizemoney record now and it means more that this horse has done it because he has been the greatest servant a trainer could ever ask for and there will always be a soft spot him,’ he said.

Of the beaten brigade, Steven Jell – looking after Lizard’s Desire for Mike de Kock, graciously conceded the winner was too good. “Viva Pataca was great and I think our horse had every chance,’ Jell said.

Luca Cumani conceded the race just wasn’t run to suit the defending champion Presvis but said the horse would press on to Singapore. ‘He just couldn’t come from last the way the race was run. But he motored to the line and would have won in another 100 yards.

“Unfortunately that’s the way it is. You can’t change tactics with him as he just doesn’t begin well enough and if you dig him up early he’s going to race too keenly. He’s always going to be hostage to the pace,’ Cumani said.


THREE years after his first victory in the race, Able One added a second Champions Mile to his battle honours in the 2010 renewal.

Huge credit must go to his trainer John Moore who has nursed and nurtured the race’s first dual winner since Bullish Luck through a variety of stress fractures which have interfered with the progress of his career.

Remarkably, Able One seems a better horse now than he was when winning under Mick Kinane’s cunning ride to make all in 2007.

“It seems he just gets better with age,” remarked owner Dr Cornel Li Fook-kwan.

The story of the 2010 Champions Mile is not complex, and it’s a familiar one to any who saw Able One’s victory in the Chairman’s Trophy over course and distance on 4 April.

On both occasions the horse travelled comfortably in fourth, then kicked early in the straight and held all opposition at bay.

The only difference this time was that Darren Beadman was unable to secure the rail from the number 8 draw. But it made very little difference to the outcome as Able One once again delivered his now trademark burst of speed early in the run for the line and soon had all rivals in trouble.

It was left to the superbly consistent Fellowship to give closest chase but, as expected by his connections who recognise the mile just stretches his stamina, the seven-year-old just flattened out in the last 100m, and Able One held him off by a fairly comfortable three quarters of a length.

“He has hit a purple patch of form. His last run was very good and I felt he was fitter today than when he last won. The race panned out exactly as we wanted and he ran a great time again,” trainer John Moore declared.

“He always seems to race best at this time of year. He has hairline fractures in different areas but this season he has been a very sound horse. As regards future plans, I think we might be going to the Yasuda Kinen next as his owner [Dr Cornel Li]’s wife likes to go shopping in Japan!”

Four-year-old Beauty Flash ran on well for third to represent the younger generation, and Matthew Chadwick, feeling he might have taken second place if not for interference as he began his run early in the straight, was full of optimism for his future.