On paper, Race 2 at Sha Tin on Sunday evening was a modest (at least in Hong Kong terms, with prizemoney of $A140,000) Class 4 handicap over 1200 metres.
It attracted special attention because of the debut of this year’s Hong Kong International Sale-topper, the Starcraft-Top Cuban colt bought for $360,000 from Arrowfield’s 2014 Inglis Easter draft by the Hong Jockey Club.
He was then purchased by Liu Yu Wen for $HK8.5 million (~$A1.4 million) at the Hong Kong Sale last March and sent to trainer David Hall. The now 4YO gelding’s excellent lead-up work and two barrier trials ensured considerable interest in his first raceday appearance.
Jing Jing Win could hardly have made it look easier. He jumped out smartly and took up the running, but jockey Zac Purton was happy to let Gainfuljet cross over into the lead, allowing Jing Jing Win to settle comfortably behind him.
Purton slipped the favourite off the fence before the turn, putting him in the perfect position to attack and attack he did, just before the 300-metre mark, powering away to win by 4 lengths in 1:09.51. Three-time Hong Kong winner Winning Boy was second and Gainfuljet was third.
While acknowledging Jing Jing Win’s evident ability, David Hall did not overplay the performance. “He’s got a bit of talent, he’s done the job nicely first time and now he’s got to build on it.”
For Paul Favretto, who bred Jing Jing Win with Paul Rowe, there is much to look forward to.
He said, “We’re excited to own a mare that can produce such athletic and talented sons and for all involved: Jing Jing Win’s owner, trainer and Arrowfield.
“We’re looking forward to seeing what he can achieve in Hong Kong, the debut of his Redoute’s Choice half-brother for Shadwell, how her Snitzel colt develops ahead of next year’s sales and her next foal by Redoute’s Choice.”
Messrs Favretto & Rowe are familiar with major Hong Kong success: they’re also co-breeders of Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup G1 winner Contentment (Hussonet-Jemison).
Top Cuban (by Anabaa) has already left Group 3 winner Havana to Starcraft and her $1.5 million Inglis Easter colt by Redoute’s Choice, named Eltizaam, will race for Sheikh Hamdan from the Hayes & Dabernig stable.