The Aidan O’Brien trained Highland Reel (IRE) farewelled racing with a dominant victory in the HK$18m, Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) at Sha Tin on Sunday, his seventh Group 1 win in a 27 start international travelling career.
Highland Reel flies home in the Hong Kong Vase, photo Liesl King
The win was Highland Reel’s second at the highest level in Hong Kong after his 2015 Vase victory and in 2016 he was second. Prior to last year’s second to Satono Crown (JPN) the now five-year-old had won the Breeders’ Cup Turf over 2400m at Santa Anita and this year he was third in the same race to Talismanic (GB) before both renewed their rivalry at Sha Tin.
In between there were wins in the Coronation Cup over 2400m at Epsom and the Prince of Wales Stakes over 2000m at Ascot.
On Sunday Highland Reel under Ryan Moore stamped his international class and ability to run against the best over different continents in no uncertain terms.
Ryan Moore and Highland Reel, photo Liesl King
Moore had Highland Reel across from barrier eight and positioned brilliantly behind the leader Helene Charisma and Sam Clipperton as they led the field past the post for the first time. Rival Talismanic and Maxine Guyon kept close watch in third.
Down the back straight Moore kept the pressure on Helene Charisma and they opened a 2L gap to the rest. Round the bottom turn the same applied with the pressure building from Highland Reel and then with 450m to run Moore asked Highland Reel for more.
The impact was immediate with Highland Reel taking over the lead and they had 2L on the now chasing Talismanic and Guyon. Slowly Talismanic closed on Highland Reel and a repeat of the Breeders’ Cup for a moment looked possible.
However, it was but a moment and Highland Reel sensed the danger on his outside. Under Moore’s urgency he lengthened again and the class was there for an emphatic victory as Highland Reel not only went clear again he pulled away for a 1 3/4L win.
Talismanic (Medaglia d’Oro) was a brave second with Tosen Basil (JPN) and Joao Moreira third, the margin 3/4L. Chemical Charge (GB) was fourth, Gold Mount (GB) fifth and Max Dynamite (FR) sixth.
Aidan O'Brien with Highland Reel, photo Liesl King
“I was always happy and always confident. He’s the sort of horse once he gets into a fight, he’s almost always going to prevail. He dug in over the last furlong and I thought he was comfortable and going away at the finish,” said Moore.
Highland Reel, by Galileo out of the Danehill mare Hveger, retires to Coolmore Stud for his owners with ten wins and nine placings.
Highland Reel, photo Liesl King
What the beaten jockeys said:
2nd - TALISMANIC – Maxime Guyon
“I was in an ideal position all the way, where I wanted to be and close enough to Highland Reel. I waited as long as I could as he only has a short run but I couldn’t get by him (Highland Reel) but he’s run a great race.”
3rd - TOSEN BASIL – Joao Moreira
“Fantatstic run. Had everything perfect during the race. He came up as we turned for home to give them a challenge but they are just too good for him but he ran a fantastic third.”
4th - CHEMICAL CHARGE – Oisin Murphy
“He was a little twitchy in the gate and missed the break a little and I was further back than I would have wanted to be. He ran on really well and that was a career best effort.”
5th - GOLD MOUNT – Zac Purton
“It was a good effort.”
6th - MAX DYNAMITE – Glyn Schofield
“He ran really well. I was in a lovely spot but the pace was probably a bit sedate for him.”
7th - SMART CALL – Jim Crowley
“From the bad draw we had to settle further back than was ideal. Under the circumstances she ran a good race.”
8th - EAGLE WAY – Tommy Berry
“He came into it very well around the corner but the internationals were better than us and he felt the effects of the setback in his training.”
9th - KISEKI – Mirco Demuro
“He started slowly which was not a big problem but the pace was a bit slow so I wanted to be in a more forward position around the final turn. But he didn’t fight in the straight. I was very disappointed.”
10th - DANEHILL KODIAC – Sean Levey
“He’s proven he’s a group 3 horse at home. I tucked him in behind Group 1 horses today and he was found wanting.”
11th - TIBERIAN – Olivier Peslier
“He started ok but he was never travelling very well. There was no power from before the 800 (metres) and he didn’t run his race. Disappointing.”
12th - HELENE CHARISMA – Sam Clipperton
“Just not good enough.”