California Memory wins Hong Kong Cup

California Memory wins Hong Kong Cup

HONG KONG - Agence France-Presse
California Memory wins Hong Kong Cup

Matthew Chadwick riding California Memory reacts after winning the 2000-meter Hong Kong Cup yesterday.

California Memory galloped to victory in the 2,000-meter Hong Kong Cup yesterday, the richest of four meetings at the $8.7 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Kong International Races.

Jockey Matthew Chadwick guided the horse to a surprise victory in the Group One contest, edging fellow Hong Kong-based thoroughbred Irian into second place.

After the $2.6 million race, a jubilant Chadwick said: “Winning this is the highlight of my career. It is the best horse I have ever ridden.”

German horse Zazou finished third while one of the pre-day race favorites, Ambitious Dragon, was placed fourth.

It was a disappointing day for another favorite, Cirrus des Aigles, which pulled off a shock victory in the Champion Stakes at Britain’s Ascot in October, but finished fifth yesterday without ever threatening the leading pack.

A crowd of about 60,000 packed into a sun-kissed Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong’s New Territories to watch some of the world’s top thoroughbreds compete in what is one of the richest days on the global racing calendar.

The annual event, which features four major races on a turf track, is on a par with America’s Triple Crown, the Dubai World Cup and Ascot, and draws top horses plus trainers and jockeys to Sha Tin.
France’s Dunaden, which won Australia’s biggest horse race, the Melbourne Cup, in November, triumphed in the 2,400-meter Hong Kong Vase. The favorite, ridden by Craig Williams and trained by Mikel Delzangles, came home out front to win the Vase, pipping Hong Kong hopeful Thumbs Up, which finished second.

Williams said of Dunaden: “He produced so much when I pulled him out, the hairs were standing on the back of my neck some way before the line. I really love this horse.”

There was a shock in the 1,200-meter Sprint, where Singapore’s Rocket Man, the world’s second-top rated speedster, failed to finish in the top four. Lucky Nine, a Hong Kong horse, gave the home fans something to cheer when he won by a nose over Little Bridge.