The Japanese took a near clean sweep in the HK$20m, Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) at Sha Tin on Sunday with the appropriately named Glory Vase (JPN) demolishing the field under Joao Moreira for trainer Tomohito Ozeki.
Moreira looks for the rest, they were behind, picture Liesl KingLucky Lilac (JPN and Christophe Soumillon were second and Deirdre (JPN) and Osin Murphy were fourth. Only Hong Kong’s Exultant (IRE) and Zac Purton, who won last year, prevented the trifecta finishing third.
Purton took Exultant to the lead from barrier 14 after using the main straight to come across by the winning post for the first time. Once into the back straight he had the five-year-old in a steady tempo and on a long rein.
Anthony Van Dyke (IRE) and Ryan Moore followed along with Southern Legend (AUS) and Alberto Sanna. Glory Vase and Moreira were in seventh.
Purton increased the pace through the turn and then at the 400m he sent Exultant away to try and catch the rest out with the stepping up of pace. Moreira was one out on Glory Vase and looking to go wide off the turn, but there was no movement for clear running. He saw the required space inside and immediately pushed Glory Vase back in towards the rails.
Glory Vase responded with alacrity and then with a turn of foot that left Exultant behind at the 200m. The move left the field behind and Moreira sent the four-year-old Deep Impact entire off to the line. The winning margin was a decisive 3 1/2L.
Being Lucky Lilac (Orfevre) and Soumillon came after Exultant from mid-field and they took second over a brave Exultant (Teofilo) and Purton, the margin a head. A half-length behind Deirdre had come from the rear at the turn.
The time was 2.24.27 on the Good rated course.
“He ran amazing; the emotion is getting the better of me but that’s what it’s about, winning big races, and today we’ve got another one. To come back and win on a Japanese horse, it makes it all worth it,” said Moreira.
“I was quite blessed to get in two off the fence, get cover and get him to relax,” the rider said. “I had horses on top of me at the 800 metres but good horses, if they face a tough situation, they just go through with it and he wasn’t any different.
“He just kept himself in the gap and just before we turned for home I was kind of trapped and had to ride for luck. I sneaked on the inside and hoped the gap would come. Fortunately it did.
“When I got the gap he just dashed from the 350 (metres) and I knew I was the winner because I had plenty of horse underneath me and he was just attacking the line as a really good horse would.”
The Brazilian ace was ebullient in victory, beaming and waving to the appreciative crowd and his cohort of fans waving Japan flags and marker pens in the hope of a coveted autograph. Moreira obliged as many as he could.
“It’s a pleasure. It’s always good to win these big races, it’s always going to help your confidence and I’ll be riding the rest of the races with even more confidence knowing that I’ve got good rides,” he said.
Meanwhile Ozeki was delighted with his first Hong Kong win.
“I am overwhelmed,” said Ozeki.
“Moreira did an amazing job riding the horse. We had a meeting together yesterday and felt good about our chances.
“The plan was to come here, we’ve been targeting this race because we felt the track would suit him and the owner was happy to come. Winning international races like this, this is my job as a trainer, this is the best.”
Glory Vase, out of the Swept Overboard mare Mejiro, is owned by the Silk Racing Club who also race the champion mare Almond Eye (JPN) who did not make the trip to Sha Tin due to an elevated temperature in quarantine. The win was more than ample compensation.
The Sha Tin win was Glory Vase’s best from just ten starts in a step up to Group 1 winning status. The winner of the Group 2 Nikki Shinshun Hai over 2400m at Kyoto back in January, he was second in the Group 1 Tenno Sho Spring over 3200m at the same course in April. He came to Hong Kong after a sixth in the Kyoto Daishoten over 2400m on October 10th.
The salute by Joao Moreira with Glory Vase (JPN)