Singapore’s runner Lim’s Cruiser ran seventh in the HK$20 million Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) on Sunday, with trainer Stephen Gray still proud of his charge’s performance.
The Casino Prince six-year-old got shuffled back at the rear, just ahead of Sir Dancealot (Gerald Mosse), despite jumping from a good barrier (three), but was still within striking distance upon straightening.
Favourite Hot King Prawn (Joao Moreira) who had led after crossing from his wide barrier, could not pull away and was immediately collared by last year’s winner Mr Stunning (Karis Teetan).
The Exceed And Excel six-year-old went home the best to hold off D B Pin (Sam Clipperton) for exactly the same quinella as last year. The only variable to the deja-vu is that last year’s was also a John Size 1-2 as Mr Stunning is now prepared by first-year trainer Frankie Lor.
After getting a little held up in traffic at the rear, Lim’s Cruiser flashed home for seventh place, only 3 ½ lengths off Mr Stunning.
Gray said Lim’s Cruiser gave his all and proved he could measure up to the elite ranks from Hong Kong and the world. He actually finished first among the overseas raiders in the Sprint as Japan’s Fine Needle was eighth and England’s Sir Dancealot ran last in the 11-horse field.
“He went super. He should have definitely run fifth not being closer,” said the Kiwi handler.
“Hughy said they went too slow for him early, he got too far back. He would have wanted to be a little closer, but he rode the horse, and up the straight, he just got held up a fraction.
“It cost him running fifth. If they had gone quicker early, he could probably have even closer to fourth or third.
“He felt great and he raced well, he was a little green around the turns. This is a fine line and we should be proud of him – he ran really good and was probably a little unlucky.
“We’ll go home and feel really, really proud of what he’s done and the way he went. That’s all we can do, never mind, life goes on.”
The host country was the overwhelming winner of this year’s Longines Hong Kong International Races, having also swept the other three Group 1 races.
Glorious Forever (Silvestre de Sousa) won the Longines Hong Kong Cup (2000m) for another win for Lor, Beauty Generation (Zac Purton) won the Longines Hong Kong Mile (1600m) for John Moore and Exultant won the Longines Hong Kong Vase (2400m) for Tony Cruz.