The Duke Delivers in Hong Kong Mile
In the richest mile race on turf in the world, the HK$16,000,000 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile (1600m), New Zealand Bloodstock graduate The Duke (Danehill x Mer du Sud) exerted a powerful performance to secure a win in one of the prestigious headline races of the Hong Kong Jockey Club's 2006 International Race Meeting.
Image: The Duke finishes ahead of Armada - Finally delivering on the promise that he has shown throughout his career, The Duke was vigorously urged to the line by Olivier Delouze to hold out the fast finishing New Zealand bred Armada (Towkay x Dance in Time) who was ridden by Douglas Whyte. Showing a scintillating turn of foot, Armada forced The Duke to a head victory, in a fast time of 1:33.4, completing a local quinella with Casper Fownes and John Size training the respective horses for Eddie Junior Yau and Wong Yuk Lun.
Bred by New Zealand Olympic gold medallist, Mark Todd, and his wife Carolyn, The Duke was sold as a yearling through the Trelawney Stud draft for NZ$200,000 at the 2001 Karaka Premier Sale. In a timely filip for the HKJC International Sale, The Duke is also a graduate of that Sale when he was sold for HK$1,600,000.
The Duke has now won ten races and over HK$26,000,000 in prize money. Although he had not won a race since October 2005, The Duke has shown good recent form with second placings in his last two lead up races, including a second behind Armada last month, when the pair met in the Hong Kong International Mile Trial. He had also promised much finishing second and third in the previous two running's of the Hong Kong Mile.
Taking nothing away from The Duke's win, Armada's rise through the ranks in Hong Kong has been nothing short of phenomenal, with this only his ninth race day start.
Former Hong Kong Horse of the Year, and Karaka graduate Vengeance of Rain (Zabeel x Danelagh) showed he still up to top class racing with a gutsy third place in the HK$20,000,000 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) behind Pride (FR) and Admire Moon (JPN).
Earlier in the day New Zealand-bred Happee Owner (Towkay x Make up) held on to take the Class 1 Canberra Handicap (1400m) ahead of Royal Delight (AUS) with fast-finishing Karaka Ready to Run graduate All's Well (City on a Hill x Alot of Music) back in third. Happee Owner was lightly tried in New Zealand under the name, Ambitious Owner, including placing second in the Group 1 2000 Guineas at his fifth start. He has since continued his career in Hong Kong, under trainer Tony Cruz, where he has added a further five wins to his first two in New Zealand.
In the final race of the night, the Class 1 Dublin Handicap (1600m) Danny Nikolic rode New Zealand Bloodstock graduate Good Nature (Danske x Heaps) to beat fellow New Zealand-bred Bullish Cash (Howbaddouwantit x La Mafia) by a half-a-length. Trained by Paul O'Sullivan for Darin Leung Wai Yuen, Good Nature has now won seven from twenty-five starts. He was sold at the 2003 Karaka Select Sale by Lyndhurst Farm for NZ$41,000 and raced under name Mucho in New Zealand where he won as a juvenile before continuing his career in Hong Kong last year.
At the Hong Kong International Sale on Saturday the top priced yearling from the New Zealand draft was a gelding by More Than Ready ex Dainty Dancer which sold for HK$4,400,000. Third highest priced two-year-old and the second highest priced Lot from the New Zealand draft was the Cape Cross gelding out of Zabeel mare, Showzeel, which sold for HK$2,200,000. He was also purchased at the Karaka Premier Sale for NZ$250,000. A colt by first season sire Elusive City, out of Showzeel is Lot 373 and will be sold on the second day of the Karaka Premier Sale on 30 January 2007.