The John Size trained Mr Stunning (AUS) under Nash Rawiller scorched to victory in the HK$18.5m, Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday for a local victory in the sprint for the fourth year in succession.
Mr Stunning holds off DB Pins in the HK Sprint, photo Liesl King
Rawiller rode Mr Stunning with aplomb as the best runner in the field and so he was. Out quickly from barrier four Rawiller was then in control of the race as he allowed Once In A Moon (JPN) and Zac Purton with Peniaphobia and Matthew Chadwick to lead.
As they came through the bottom turn Mr Stunning and Rawiller were on the rails with Not Listenin’tome and Tommy Berry outside and Rawiller plotted the path for the final 500m. He eased Mr Stunning three wide to clear the two in front who had been travelling quickly in their personal battle.
Passing the 400m Rawiller already had Mr Stunning in the lead, but he waited patiently until the 300m when he was travelling so well he had to allow Mr Stunning to lengthen. They quickly went clear and then it was a question of disposing of the challenge of DB Pin (NZ) and Oliver Doleuze to the outside in the middle of the track.
Mr Stunning and DB Pins duel down the straight, photo Liesl King
DB Pin is a rising star in Hong Kong, but this day belonged to Mr Stunning with Rawiller urging the five-year-old Exceed And Excel gelding forward as they had all the answers. They fended off the stablemate DB Pin in better fashion than the nose margin suggests.
DB Pin (Darci Brahma) and Doleuze were well clear of Blizzard (AUS) (Starcraft) and Gerard Mosse in third with the margin 1 3/4L giving the locals a clean sweep of their preferred sprint distance. Luck Bubbles was fourth, Amazing Kids fifth and Let’s Go Donki (JPN) sixth.
The time was a quick 1.08.40, quicker than standard of 1.08.50, on the Good rated track presented in excellent order.It was the fastest Hong Kong Sprint win since Lord Kanaloa’s breathtaking second victory in 2013.
Mr Stunning gets a kiss from Nash Rawiller, photo Liesl King
“I thought there’d be more pressure than there was. I wasn’t too worried about them chasing me down. I was on the best horse at the equal weight. It’s been a long time coming this one in Hong Kong, so it means a lot,” said Rawiller.
The win was the first for Rawiller, 43, in the Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong International Races although a prolific Group 1 winner in Australia before he commenced riding in Hong Kong in 2014. The win was also validation of his hard work in returning to full fitness after his serious fall last April that dislocated his right shoulder with fractures elsewhere and not surprisingly ended his season.
For Size it was his second HKIR win after Glorious Days in the 2013 Hong Kong Mile. Size, 63, has dominated Hong Kong training in recent years with his ninth championship in 2016/17.
Mr Stunning, out of the Dayjur mare With Fervour, came into the race with two impressive wins in the Group 2 Premier Bowl on October 22nd and the Group 2 BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Sprint on November 19th.
The win was Mr Stunning’s tenth from 16 starts for owner Maurice Koo Win Chong. The international win added a massive $HK10,545,000 to his previous earnings of $HK16,478,00.
Mr Stunning, photo Liesl King
What the beaten jockeys said:2nd - D B PIN – Olivier Doleuze
“I am sad, but happy. I was very confident – last time I could not really test him but today he has run against an impressive horse and has run a great race. He gave me everything, but the winner just held on. Mine has a future and I hope he might go to Dubai next year.”
3rd - BLIZZARD – Gerald Mosse
“He ran very well, I’m very pleased with him. He’s a lovely horse and he tries, he gives everything. He’s coming on now, he’s getting stronger and stronger. He hit the line well but was beaten by two superstars.”
4th - LUCKY BUBBLES – Hugh Bowman
“A really nice run in transit, but we had to wait a bit longer than I wanted, though I don’t think we could have finished much closer. It was another brave effort and a really nice run.”
5th - AMAZING KIDS – Brett Prebble
“I had a lovely run – I followed the second horse and thought I had a real winning chance but there is something holding him back.”
6th - LET'S GO DONKI – Yasunari Iwata
“We missed the break.”
7th - THEWIZARDOFOZ – Joao Moreira
“He had a beautiful run through. He was not just good enough to challenge today and was probably a bit disappointing.”
8th - THE RIGHT MAN – Francois-Xavier Bertras
“The game was up from the moment we got that draw. They go so fast at the start here and whereas in Dubai, I was able to work back into it I had to wait in behind rather than go six wide. He finished off well.”
9th - PENIAPHOBIA – Matthew Chadwick
“His connections wanted me to try to lead so I had to use him more than I would have liked. He’s getting older now….and he threw in the towel when others came past him.”
10th - NOT LISTENIN'TOME – Tommy Berry
“He is getting on in age now. He runs a good race when fresh now but is probably feeling his old legs now.”
11th - STORMY LIBERAL – Silvestre de Sousa
“He was a little flat and might have been feeling the effects of the trip.”
12th - ONCE IN A MOON – Zac Purton
“Peniaphobia ruined any chance we have.”
13th - SIGNS OF BLESSING – Stephane Pasquier
“I have no real explanation. We missed the break but I was able to get in behind the winner quite quickly but when we straightened up, he couldn’t accelerate. It was an off day and we know he’s better than that.”