Win Bright showcased considerable class to complete the Group One double of the Hong Kong Cup and April’s QEII Cup for Japanese trainer Yoshihiro Hatakeyama and jockey Masami Matsuoka, putting the cherry on top of a day of Japanese domination. Rise High finished third, astern of runner-up Magic Wand.
The race had been billed as Almond Eye’s to lose but her withdrawal a week ago threw it wide open, giving hope to a host of rivals. In doing so the steel-grey son of Stay Gold held off the late lunge of Ireland’s Magic Wand.
To no great surprise Time Warp got to the first bend a step ahead of his brother Glorious Forever, with Magic Wand and Win Bright making up the second rank of two.
Rise High proved to be the best of those to come from off the pace and looked a threat inside the 200m pole but it was Magic Wand that threw down the final challenge after Ryan Moore had been forced to weave in and around horses, only finding clear sailing late on.
Win Bright was the only horse among nine sent from Japan across the four Group races to be partnered by a Japanese jockey.
“It went the way we were expecting,” Matsuoka said. I thought the pace would be slow so I wanted to sit third or fourth. I was very happy it all went to plan
“We perhaps made our move maybe a bit early as we were carrying plenty of speed into the straight.”
“After his summer break he couldn’t get into top condition,” Hatakeyama said. “His last two runs were below what I expected but he began to improve straight after the Tenno Sho Autumn and we always wanted to come here if we got the invite.
“He was in really good shape by the time he left Japan and that is why we were able to follow the same routine here as when we came in April.
Hatakeyama started out in the mid-1980s as a JRA work-rider and Win Bright’s two triumphs in Hong Kong are the fulfilment of lifelong ambitions sparked by a spell riding out for Irish master trainer John Oxx, a man he described as “a great teacher.”
It was a performance which suggested big days ahead but, with Hatakeyama planning a third trip to Sha Tin for Win Bright next April, pretenders to the throne know exactly what will be required.