October 6, 2022

Military Attack pummels QEII Cup rivals; Dragon hampered in sixth

Last updated: 4/28/13 9:04 PM

Military Attack pummels QEII Cup rivals; Dragon hampered in

Military Attack and Tommy Berry, each experiencing a breakthrough season, teamed up to down an international field
(Hong Kong Jockey Club)

Military Attack ensured the Tommy Berry Group 1 bandwagon kept on rolling at
Sha Tin on Sunday. The Australian sensation crowned his first Hong Kong raceday
with victory in a dramatic running of the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, in which the
fates deserted Ambitious Dragon.

The Sha Tin crowd enjoyed a thrilling spectacle on a day when attendance was
up 3 percent on last year to 29,931, while turnover increased by 14 percent on
2012 to HK$1.189 billion.

Berry, 22, has already snared the Golden Slipper and Doncaster Mile in his
homeland this month and made it three top-flight triumphs for April with a
copybook ride on the John Moore-trained five-year-old. Off a stop-start pace,
the jockey settled his mount into a smooth tempo just behind the leaders and
when the field fanned for home he was poised to strike.

“They really ran to the first corner — probably a bit quicker than I
anticipated — but I just got my horse into a nice rhythm,” Berry said. “They
backed it off and then quickened it up again going to the half-mile.”

With the leaders folding early in the homestretch, Berry sent Military Attack
to the front half-way down the straight. The gelding battled to see off
runner-up California Memory and drew clear for a 1 3/4-length triumph in a time
of 2:02 for about 1 1/4 miles on good turf.

“I probably had to come out a little bit earlier than I wanted to but we got
forced out,” Berry said, “and watching the replays of this horse in the past
he’s got a really long sustained run. He looked like a really nice horse and he
showed that today. It was a beautiful training effort, I’ve got to say —
perfect with a few weeks in between runs.”

Moore, winning the race for the third time after Viva Pataca in 2007 and
2010, was ecstatic. The veteran handler has now guided Military Attack to three
straight wins with this victory following on from impressive wins in the Hong
Kong Gold Cup and last month’s Premier Plate. Moore now has his sights set on
the Singapore Airlines International Cup at Kranji on May 19.

“Wow, I just need to pinch myself to understand what’s just transpired,”
Moore said. “I think it was thanks to Zac (Purton) that we found out that we
could vary the tactics on him and that made a big difference, instead of riding
him out the back and have him closing off in these exceptional times.
Tactically, we’ve got a very smart horse on our hands.

“It was a great ride by Tom today. He got him just in the right position and
he had to kick a little early but he showed a lot of fight. I can’t be happier
with this horse’s progress — he’s won his first (international) Group 1 and now
we’re off to Singapore!”

While Military Attack enjoyed a dream run, there were hard luck stories in
behind with sixth-placed Ambitious Dragon the unluckiest of all. Purton was just
beginning to ask Hong Kong’s champion for a race-winning effort when his mount
was baulked and badly impeded at the 250-meter as California Memory drifted off
a straight course. The interference cost the Tony Millard-trained runner any
chance of a second QEII Cup win to sit alongside his 2011 triumph.

And as that drama unfolded, Japan’s Eishin Flash, anchored at the tail from
gate 13, surged home late down the inside fence under Mirco Demuro to finish
third, a nose behind Tony Cruz’s two-time Hong Kong Cup winner California

Godolphin’s Dubai Duty Free heroine Sajjhaa cost herself dearly by missing
the break. The Saeed bin Suroor mare then traveled four wide under Silvestre de
Sousa ran a brave race to get up for fourth.

Akeed Mofeed wound up fifth, followed by Ambitious Dragon, Thumbs Up, Igugu,
Irian, Wrath of Fire, Treasure Beach, Zaidan, Ashkiyr and Crackerjack.

Berry has now notched six Group 1 wins in all this season and is contracted
to ride for the Hong Kong Jockey Club until the end of the current campaign on
July 10.

“It doesn’t get much better than this,” he said. ‘I’m only 22 and I don’t
think I’ll be able to beat what I’ve done in the last 12 months in my whole
career. But that comes with a lot of support from a lot of great owners and
trainers in Australia and now Hong Kong.”

The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Chief Executive Officer, Winfried
Engelbrecht-Bresges, was delighted with the day.

“On the sporting front, I’m very happy with the result,” he said. “It was a
great day of racing and a fascinating race.

“We had a little incident, which made the whole thing for Ambitious Dragon
probably ‘mission impossible,’ but I think we should not take the credit away
from Military Attack — it was a terrific performance.

“It’s probably one of the best QEII Cups we’ve ever had, ratings wise, and
the depth of talent in the field today reflects the quality of Hong Kong

Also at Sha Tin Sunday, the margin of just a short head was enough to ensure
career best wins for horse and trainer after Michael Chang’s Rich Tapestry
scored in a thrilling finish to the Group 2 Sprint Cup.

The five-year-old gelding, given the run of the race — stalking the leaders
— by Olivier Doleuze, gradually wore down the front runner Go Baby Go to gain
the photo verdict with Time After Time a length further back in third place.

Fancied runners Lucky Nine (seventh) and Frederick Engels (eighth) failed
after settling back in a race which, soon after settling down, looked likely to
be dominated by the on-pace runners. 

Stewards reported after the race Lucky Nine was found to have a substantial
amount of blood in the trachea, while Frederick Engels was lame in the right
fore leg.

“This is his best win — very good to beat some of the best sprinters in Hong
Kong,” said Chang who, earlier this Hong Kong season, claimed his first Group
race success when Vital Flyer won the Group 3 Sha Tin Sprint Trophy last
October. Vital Flyer was 10th behind Rich Tapestry in the Sprint Cup.

Chang said that Rich Tapestry was now likely to be given a break and prepared
for next season when he would contemplate competing overseas with him.

“No plans are locked in yet because I will talk to the owners first but I
would be tempted to take him to Dubai,” he said.

Doleuze said this could be a good option for the horse.

“It was great to see him win today,” the rider said. “Maybe he’s a fraction
below the very best sprinters, but he had his chance today and took it with the
race panning out perfectly for him.

“I think this might be his last race for the season and going to Dubai would
not be a bad plan as he is a one class better horse on the dirt,” Doleuze added.

Rich Tapestry’s previous best win was in a Class 1 in January.

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