SATONO Crown showed just how good the Japanese stayers are when running down Highland Reel to win the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase on Sunday.
2015 winner Highland Reel was heavily-backed with most bookmakers and it started the $1.50 tote favourite at WilliamHill.com.au. The Aidan O’Brien-trained champion led throughout the 2400m race and it looked home in the straight, but Japanese colt Satono Crown emerged from the pack to run down the favourite.
The Noriyuki Hori-trained four-year-old entered the HK$16,500,000 feature having finished a disappointing 14th in the Group 1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) and despite having a poor record at the top level, it was able to produce a stunning sprint to win the Hong Kong Vase.
Brazilian champion jockey Joao Moreira rode the son of Marju to perfection as he maneuvered through the field coming around the home turn.
“Eventually I ended up behind a horse that wasn’t taking me forward, it was actually dragging me back,” Moreira said.
“I got on the fence and when I put him under pressure in the straight he gave me everything he’s got and he proved that he’s a very talented horse.”
Satono Crown paid $20.40 at Sportsbet.com.au which was a much better price than the $10 which was offered throughout the week. That was largely due to the amount of money invested on the second-placed Highland Reel which kicked strongly at the top of the straight, but it was made to do work early.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained four-year-old worked across from its wide barrier draw to find the lead, but after 2016 Melbourne Cup entrant Big Orange was posted three wide down the back, it then moved forward to put pressure on the punters elect.
This forced jockey Ryan Moore to take off before the home turn and Highland Reel just couldn’t sustain the long run after a mid-race soften up.
“He has run a very good race but it’s disappointed to get beaten. We pulled a long way clear and the winner is a good horse,” Moore said.
Satono Crown and Highland Reel cleared out from the rest of the field which was headed by the much-publicised One Foot In Heaven which was under an injury cloud since arriving in Hong Kong.
It finished 6.75 lengths back in third, but the son of Fastnet Rock lived up to its pedigree and connections will be pleased with the result as Satono Crown won in a slick time of 2:26.22.
“Leaving the stalls it was quite a rough race early on and there was a lot of movement all through the race,” jockey Christophe Soumillon said.
“I got out OK but all through the race there were jockeys fighting for the same spot. It was a fine effort but the first two were a class above.”
The night could get even better for winning trainer Noriyuki Hori who trains Neorealism in the Hong Kong Mile and Maurice in the Hong Kong Cup.
Neorealism is currently a $7 chance in the Mile, but all of the expectations will fall upon Maurice which is paying $1.90 at CrownBet.com.au and Hori stated that if Maurice was to win the Hong Kong Cup, it would be its final race.