Participants on the 2017 Ontrack Racing Hong Kong International Tour wouldn’t be surprised by the result of last nights $10 million Group One Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup at Sha Tin.
Former UK galloper Time Warp led all the way to beat former Kiwi stayer Werther in the 2000 metres event which is the second leg of the Triple Crown.
In December, tour members on the Ontrack tour witnessed Time Warp lead all the way to take the Group One Longines Hong Kong Cup, again relegating Werther to the runner-up role.
Time Warp set a merciless tempo to win the Hong Kong Gold Cup leading from the off for former Aussie jockey Zac Purton. The strapping chestnut was forced to go where no horse had gone before – inside two minutes over Sha Tin’s 2000 metres.
The performance was one of raw courage from Time Warp and smart timing from Purton. The five-year-old went through the middle three sectionals in 23.35s, 23.39s and 23.32s, closing off a battling home stretch run in 24.23s.
Werther took the fight to the winner through that final 400 metres. Hugh Bowman’s mount edged ahead with a furlong to race but Time Warp fought back, driving on to lower the track record to 1m 59.97s. Jim And Tonic’s old course record of 2m 00.10s had stood since April, 1999.
Trainer John Moore was full of praise for Werther, the 2.8 favourite, ridden by Aussie Hugh Bowman.
The bravery of the six-year-old’s effort was accentuated in the revelation that the horse had bled during the race.
“Hugh got a head in front and he said he thought he was going to sustain it and kick a little more, and then we’ve seen that the horse has bled, so that’s probably the reason why,” Moore said.
Bowman confirmed that last year’s winner had taken the lead in the skirmish to the wire.
“He did (lead) but I think if he was at his best he would have put a margin on the winner,” he said.
“They’ve run good time but I know the horse and he just wasn’t quite himself today. I make no excuses, the winner did it all, so take nothing away from him, but I think my guy wasn’t quite himself.”
Werther faces a three-month ban from racing. Horses in Hong Kong can race again after a bleeding attack but any horse which bleeds for a third occasion is automatically banned for life.