September 26, 2023

Mogul rules over Hong Kong Vase

Mogul emulated Highland Reel as a 3-year-old colt winning the Hong Kong Vase (Hong Kong Jockey Club)

Five years after Highland Reel captured his first Hong Kong Vase (G1) as a 3-year-old, Mogul emulated that past Ballydoyle star with a dominant display in Sunday’s $2.6 million renewal at Sha Tin. In the process, the Aidan O’Brien sophomore also assumed Highland Reel’s mantle as a globetrotter, promising to be a leading player on the world stage for 2021.

“He’s a horse that we always expected a lot from,” jockey Ryan Moore said of the 3.4 million guineas Tattersalls October yearling purchase, who is a full brother to European highweight Japan and multiple Group/Grade 1-placed Secret Gesture.

Mogul could be the best of the offspring of Galileo and the Danehill mare Shastye. The onetime classic hopeful scored his breakthrough in the Sept. 13 Grand Prix de Paris (G1), where he rolled from off the pace in fast time. Mogul didn’t have the same set-up in the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), and he wound up fifth to Tarnawa and stablemate Magical at Keeneland.

The Vase tempo was fairly modest too, but Mogul stamped his class anyway in the manner of a serious performer on the upswing. Well handled by Moore, the 8-5 second choice settled several lengths off the pace carved out by 7-10 favorite Exultant, the 2018 Vase winner and Hong Kong’s reigning Horse of the Year, before taking closer order.

Exultant had taken the initiative through an opening quarter in :25.71, from a disinclined Chefano, and looked like he wanted to do more than splits of :50.64 and 1:15.73. His being a little too keen might have taken its toll turning for home. Accosted by the smooth-traveling Mogul, Exultant gave his typically game try but could not outkick the winner.

Mogul dashed three lengths clear, reeling off a final quarter in :23.23 to complete about 1 1/2 miles in 2:27.21. Exultant salvaged second by a half-length from the rallying Columbus County. Ho Ho Khan checked in another 2 1/2 lengths back in fourth, followed by Playa del Puente, Chefano, and French shipper Royal Julius.

Mogul’s resume now reads 11-5-1-1. Last year’s KPMG Champions Juvenile (G2) hero on Irish Champions Weekend, he could have used more than one prep ahead of this summer’s Derby (G1). The COVID-revamped calendar did him no favors. After his ring-rusty fourth in the June 16 King Edward VII (G2) at Royal Ascot, Mogul was sixth behind front-running upsetter Serpentine at Epsom. He improved in his third start of the season to win the July 30 Gordon (G3) at Glorious Goodwood, while still shaping as a work in progress. He regressed to third in the Aug. 19 Great Voltigeur (G2) at York en route to his star turn at ParisLongchamp.

Moore recounted his career trajectory in the postrace quotes from the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

“He was a good 2-year-old – he won his Group 2 race at Leopardstown. I don’t know, maybe just the way the season unfolded, he took a while to really pull himself together.

“Maybe he was just a bit behind Derby Day, and we were always on the back foot. He was super impressive when he won in Paris, and his Breeders’ Cup run wasn’t without merit.

“Today, the race worked out nicely for him. He’s beaten a really solid yardstick in Exultant. He (Exultant) always seems to consistently perform to the same level and never seems to run a bad race around here.

“He’s put them away very nicely.

“In reality, I was in front sooner than would have been ideal today but he took me there nicely.

“When he gets in front, he maybe lacks a bit of concentration still but he’s a beautiful looking horse.

“He has a great mind, so travelling won’t stress him. He loves decent ground.

“I think a few times the ground was made a little bit against him. Maybe even in America, the pace was wrong but the ground might have been loose enough.

“At York, the ground might have been deep enough for him that day.

“These fast, flat tracks suit him. They let him show what class he has.”

O’Brien, the first trainer to win the Vase three times after Mogul added to Highland Reel’s pair, was already looking ahead to his bright future.

“He’ll be a very exciting horse for next year,” the master of Ballydoyle said according to Horse Racing Ireland. “We think the year is going to do him no harm. It’s something to look forward to.

“He’s a big strong horse and I’m delighted, Ryan gave him a lovely ride. Pierre (Charles Boudot) rode him like that in Longchamp. The only thing we wasn’t sure about was the pace ahead of him needed to produce that, but the pace wasn’t too quick and he still did.

“He’s made like a sprinter-miler so to get a clean run at a race is a big help to him. Anything from a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half and taking your time with him is probably the key to him.”

Mogul was denied his chance at this fall’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1), scratched due to the feed contamination, but he’s likely to pursue that objective in 2021.

Note that his dam, the stakes-placed Shastye, is herself a half to 1998 Arc hero Sagamix; Group 1-winning highweight Sagacity, third in the 2001 Arc; and Group 2 scorer Sage et Jolie, the dam of Group 1 victor and highweight miler Sageburg. Shastye is out of Italian highweight Saganeca, a daughter of 1984 Arc star Sagace, who was also first past the post in 1985 only to be demoted for bothering Rainbow Quest.