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Hong Kong’s Al Quoz Sprint duo valiant as Equinox dazzles in Dubai

March 28, 2023 at 3:25:18 AM

Sight Success and Duke Wai were brave in defeat for Hong Kong as Equinox was anointed a global superstar at Meydan in Dubai tonight (Saturday, 25 March).

Sight Success and Duke Wai were brave in defeat for Hong Kong as Equinox was anointed a global superstar at Meydan in Dubai tonight (Saturday, 25 March).

Obliterating his rivals in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic (2410m), Equinox smashed the course record on his way to a third consecutive Group 1 win in his first start on foreign soil, clocking 2m 25.65s from the front under jockey Christophe Lemaire for trainer Tetsuya Kimura.

“We didn’t have a plan really and Christophe Lemaire is just a very good jockey who knows how to ride these horses very well. He did a fantastic job in the saddle and Equinox is such a fine horse that knows how to get the job done,” Kimura said.

A four-year-old of just seven starts after tonight, Equinox – sired by Kitasan Black – is now a five-time winner and was last year crowned Japan’s Horse of the Year (2022).

Hong Kong’s five representatives returned mixed results, but none were more gallant than Sight Success and Duke Wai, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint (1200m).

Scoring the upset victory in the straight dash was Danyah for jockey Dane O’Neill and trainer Musabbeh Al Mheiri, while roughly a length separated first and fifth position with Hong Kong’s duo closing off late, however, a little too late as the home team savoured the win.

Jockey Ryan Moore said of Sight Success: “He’s a very brave horse, he gave his best. I kind of felt that the horse who led didn’t bring me far enough into the race and we were left vulnerable and exposed from a long way out as a target and we were picked up. He battled on very well, he’s tough, a tough horse.”

Sight Success broke cleanly to settle in a forward position before doing some of his best work late. Trained by John Size, Sight Success finished alongside Duke Wai, who was ridden by Jerry Chau for trainer Pierre Ng.

“It was a very brave run given that we just had a week to settle in. It was a very good performance and he (Duke Wai) proved that he can do it in the straight,” Ng said.

Duke Wai was one of two runners for Ng, who also saddled Glorious Dragon to finish down the track in the G1 Dubai Turf (1800m) under jockey Neil Callan. The race was won by Lord North and jockey Frankie Dettori for a third consecutive time (dead-heated for first in 2022 with Panthalassa).

The Astrologist was a narrow second in the Al Quoz Sprint, while Al Suhail finished third. Danyah clocked 1m 08.61s, while the winning dividend in Hong Kong paid 68/1.

“He (Duke Wai) was just a bit unlucky, he didn’t get cover until the very end. If we were more patient, I think we would have got a little bit closer.

“We will see how he recovers when we get him back to Hong Kong as to whether (he goes to the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize, 1200m). Otherwise, we will just race him very lightly and we’ll come back next year,” Ng said.

Jerry Chau had his first taste of representing Hong Kong abroad when he partnered Duke Wai this evening.

“He ran very well. He jumped very well and he put himself a little bit more forward than we expected him to.

“I thought he was a chance at the 500 (metre mark) when I moved him out and let him start rolling. He responded very well and the last 300 (metres) I felt like he stayed one-paced, so I changed my whip to the right (hand) and tried to let him go again, and he responded very well and stayed on well. I was happy with that,” Chau said.

Russian Emperor, Senor Toba and much of the field couldn’t match it with Equinox. The former picked up late for eighth under jockey Alberto Sanna, while Senor Toba crossed the line 10th.

“He (Russian Emperor) was never in it, Alberto (Sanna) said the track was a bit more firm than last time. He just never got comfortable – he still ran on, but not like we expected,” said trainer Douglas Whyte.

Russian Emperor and Senor Toba both settled at the rear of the field as Equinox led throughout. Whyte will now target consecutive G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) wins with Russian Emperor.

“He was still hitting the line, he just didn’t do it the way he did on Super Saturday (4 March). We’ll go back and assess things – I’m happy with the horse, he looked great tonight.

“The Champions & Chater Cup is his programme and after that we’ll scratch our heads and see where we go,” Whyte said.

Ushba Tesoro gave Japan a second win in the G1 Dubai World Cup (2000m, dirt) after Victoire Pisa (2011), overhauling Algiers for jockey Yuga Kawada and trainer Noburu Takagi.

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