Sun Jewellery’s class was all too evident at Sha Tin on Sunday evening when he prevailed in a thrilling finish to the Hong Kong Classic Cup 1800m HK-1, and set himself up for a tilt at history in the Hong Kong Derby.
He is Snitzel’s third stakeswinner this month, after 3YOs Spill The Beans (ATC Eskimo Prince S. G3) and Perignon (ATC Light Fingers S. G2) who are the latest additions to their sire’s lifetime record of 35 stakeswinners.
Sun Jewellery won last month’s Classic Mile HK-1, the first leg of the Hong Kong Four-Year-Old Series, but punters believed that Werther, runner-up in that race, would be better suited by an extra 200 metres, so let Sun Jewellery go out as second favourite. Every other runner, including Arrowfield graduate Blizzard (Starcraft-Stormy Choice), a game third in the Classic Mile, was allowed to start at double-figure odds.
Watch Sun Jewellery win the Hong Kong Classic Cup HK-1.
Sun Jewellery and Werther settled behind the pace in fourth and fifth positions, while Blizzard was forced wide from gate 10 and raced near the back of the field for about 600 metres, until Gerald Mosse sent him forward to slot into third behind Green Dispatch and Eastern Express.
Blizzard launched his challenge at the top of the straight, as Hugh Bowman peeled Werther out behind him, leaving Ryan Moore on Sun Jewellery to consider his options as the field opened up, before electing to switch to the inside. Eastern Express showed plenty of fight too and the four horses lined up for a battle worthy of the race.
However, as Werther wound up for a powerful late burst, it was clear that Sun Jewellery was going well enough to win which he did by a head from Werther, with Blizzard and Eastern Express a nose away in a dead-heat for third.
The result took Sun Jewellery’s record to eight wins and $2.9 million from 11 starts in Australia and Hong Kong.
Ryan Moore said, “Sun Jewellery’s a class horse and class usually tells over a distance. He’s probably just better than them, he’s just got a class edge and that allows horses to go further than you’d think they would.
“He’s got an awful lot of courage, and that as well as his attitude are the two things that stand out about him most. I did always feel that I was going to get up. Werther started moving early and I wanted to keep tabs on him – he got away from me a bit but my horse dug in very well.”
Sun Jewellery is only the second horse, after Floral Pegasus in 2007, to complete the Classic Mile/Cup double, and now gets his chance to become the first horse to win all three legs of the Four-Year-Old Series. The 2000 metres of the final leg, the Hong Kong Derby HK-1 on 20 March, takes him into unknown territory, but his trainer John Size has been there before.
Size prepared Choisir’s son Luger to win last year’s Derby, and he believes Sun Jewellery can match that performance.
He says, “Like most good horses he does a lot of things right and his temperament helps him a lot. He’s manageable in a race and he’s determined in a finish, so all those attributes you’d love to have in any horse.”
It’s also worth remembering that, although it’s hard to find stakes-winning form past 1600 metres in Sun Jewellery’s female family, Snitzel has already left Cox Plate winner Shamus Award, and Aliyana Tilde, placed in both the Australian Oaks and the Sydney Cup.
Sun Jewellery is raced by Tung Moon Fai who also bred him from Tan Tat Star (by Umatilla), a city-winning sister to the marvellous Umrum, two-time Group 1 winner and eight times Group 1-placed over eight seasons in the care of Leon Macdonald.
Tan Tat Star has been a fine producer, leaving Sun Jewellery, Group 3 winner Tan Tat De Lago, city winner Tan Tat Tess and two other winners, all her foals to race.
The Tung family has Sun Jewellery’s unraced 3YO three-quarter brother Tan Tat Nova (by Not A Single Doubt) in training with Peter Moody, who also prepared Sun Jewellery for his first four starts in Australia. The mare foaled a filly by Bel Esprit last Spring and is in foal to Manhattan Rain.