Rapper Dragon wins horse of the year honours in Hong Kong

John Size
Former Sydney trainer John Size is awarded the 2017 Hong Kong Trainer Of The Year Award on Friday night. Picture: HKJC

Rapper Dragon claimed the Hong Kong Horse of the Year award at a sparkling ceremony held at the Grand Hyatt on Friday night.

Hong Kong’s standout four-year-old made history during the season when he became the first horse to win all three legs of Hong Kong’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series.

John Moore’s stable star had an outstanding sophomore Hong Kong campaign with four wins from six starts before his sad demise following the Group 1 Champions Mile. The gelding, who raced in the blue and red silks of owner Albert Hung, improved sharply after a smart seasonal appearance at December’s Hong Kong International Race meeting, displaying superiority over his peers in the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) and Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m), and then completing a sweep of Hong Kong’s three-race Four-Year-Old Classic Series in the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m).

“This is a really classy animal,” Moore said after the Derby victory. “I’ll call him my champion because he’s won me a Derby.”

Rapper Dragon was also named the Champion Middle-distance Horse, based on his brilliant performances in the Hong Kong Classic Cup and the BMW Hong Kong Derby. The ascendant chestnut then impressed again when taking on a group of proven elders in the Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) to land his second Group race win in his career, having won the Group 3 Lion Rock Trophy as a three-year-old during his first season in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Rapper Dragon also secured 57.5 per cent of the public vote to claim the Most Popular Horse title.

Beauty Only was named the season’s Champion Miler. The Tony Cruz-trained six-year-old won two of his nine starts, including the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile and the Group 2 Jockey Club Mile. The Holy Roman Emperor gelding performed consistently throughout the season, finishing second on three occasions, including in the Group 1 Champions Mile, the Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) and the Group 3 Celebration Cup (1400m). At his latest outing he finished a creditable sixth in the Group 1 Yasuda Kinen in Japan.

The Champion Sprinter award went to the retired Aerovelocity, who also won this award in the 2014/15 season. The Pins gelding is rated as one of the toughest horses ever to have competed on the Hong Kong circuit. Aerovelocity started this season with two encouraging runs, finishing third in both the Group 2 Premier Bowl (1200m) and the Group 2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m), and then bounced back for a second triumph in the 2016 edition of the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m). He remains the only locally-trained horse to have won Group 1 races in three different jurisdictions.

2015/16 Hong Kong Horse of the Year Werther claimed the Champion Stayer title this season. The John Moore-trained stalwart won the Group 1 Champions & Chater Cup, one of only three mile-and-a-half races staged in Hong Kong, to seal the award.

Premiere, a three-year-old from the John Size stable with three eye-catching wins from 12 starts, claimed the Champion Griffin Award.

Size sealed the Champion Trainer title for a ninth time and Joao Moreira the Champion Jockey title for a third consecutive season.

The season’s Most Popular Jockey and the winner of the Tony Cruz Award will be revealed on Sunday Sunday’s season finale at Sha Tin. Most Improved Horse of the Year will also be awarded on that day.

The recently-retired champions Able Friend and Aerovelocity were honoured with Lifetime Achievement Awards in recognition of their great contributions to Hong Kong racing.