Xtension gave John Moore a fourth win in the G1 BMW Champions Mile at Sha Tin this afternoon when repeating his 2011 success for the trainer, this time under young Kiwi riding sensation, James McDonald.
And this latest victory also marked a notable hat-trick for the handler, with Able One, his 2007 hero, having taken the spoils in 2010 ahead of Xtension’s back-to-back wins. Moore, the winning-most trainer in the BMW Champions Mile’s 11-year history, is now considering overseas targets with the game five-year-old.
“If he’s okay, we’ll consider heading to Singapore next week for the 2000m (SIA Cup) and James will be asked to ride him again,” revealed Moore. “After that we’ll make a decision whether to go on to Royal Ascot for the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.”
Owner Steven Lo Kit Sing said in a post-race interview that he will discuss with the trainer on which race Xtension should tackle next.
Moore was particularly delighted with McDonald, who was notching the 13th G1 win of his short career.
“The way James rode him was the best ride you’ve ever seen!” he said. “He got him across, right behind Able One, and got the gun run. At the 200m he had to extricate himself from a pocket but he got out, and the horse showed true courage because he wasn’t at his best weight after the Dubai trip - there were a few shortcomings there and a few doubts after the trip but he got to the line really strongly today. We were living in hope – with that great ride, we got home.”
Xtension, who tracked the now veteran pace-setter Able One, burst through in the final 200m and held on courageously to take the spoils by half a length from the strong-closing John Size-trained runner, Glorious Days, with Lucky Nine a further half-length back in third for trainer Caspar Fownes. The winning time was 1m 35.23s.
McDonald, 20, is looking forward to joining forces once again with Xtension, and the New Zealander also revealed a long-held ambition to compete more regularly in Hong Kong in the future.
“For sure, I’d love to ride him again, he’s up there with the best I’ve ever ridden,” said McDonald. “I got a gorgeous run just behind them and I couldn’t believe where we ended up after a few hundred metres. The pace was slow in behind John’s other runner (Able One) and even though we got held up a little bit he fought really hard.
“I was very confident approaching the corner - I was just clicking him up slowly. I’d watched his videos and he normally goes through a bit of a flat spot but today he definitely didn’t do that, he travelled up like a good thing in the race. We didn’t really get daylight until the last furlong and he just felt really good.
“As a kid I’ve always dreamed of riding in a country like this and with the calibre of jockeys and horses here, it’s a real privilege. Hopefully I’ll come back one day and be a Dougie Whyte, but there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge before that happens.”
Hong Kong’s reigning Horse of the Year, Ambitious Dragon, ran on strongly from the rear to claim fourth spot, a length and a quarter behind the winner, and trainer Tony Millard said, “I’m disappointed. He’s still run home in 21.9s, which is a terrific effort and we move on.”
British hope Cityscape, considered a strong contender to end Hong Kong’s 100% win record in the race, came home 10th for trainer Roger Charlton, who commented, “He was slow to begin, which had us on the back foot from the word go and that’s unusual for him – to miss the break. From where he was, he had little chance in a slowly-run race but I have to admit there was no real kick from him. He may have felt the ground a little bit.”
Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, Chief Executive Officer of The Hong Kong Jockey Club, hailed an exciting race on a day that saw turnover rise in comparison to same day last year.
“It was a terrific BMW Champions Mile, it was the strongest field we have ever had for the race,” said Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges, “and we were rewarded with a more than exciting race. Xtension came back to his best form and Lucky Nine ran a great race in defeat from Gate 14. We hope now that our horses can go on and perform well overseas.
“The decision to split the BMW Champions Mile and the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup, and have this race a week later, has proven to be the right decision. We are delighted the extra week has enabled us to attract horses of the calibre of Cityscape and African Story. Business-wise, we are very happy that today has produced a significant increase in turnover, up by more than 8% to HK$1,121 million.”
BMW Champions Mile post-race quotes
1st – Xtension – James McDonald (jockey)
“We had the perfect run. Couldn’t believe we finished up in such a good spot trailling Able One. He was held up a fraction but it didn’t make any difference and I was confident turning for home. It’s a great thrill and hopefully I will be back in Hong Kong again.”
2nd – Glorious Days – Felix Coetzee (jockey)
“He got his chance and ran so well. He’s run a cracker.”
3rd – Lucky Nine – Brett Prebble (jockey)
“Terrific effort from the gate. You just need some luck at the barriers and luck in running in these big races.”
4th – Ambitious Dragon – Douglas Whyte (jockey)
“‘In my opinion he had his chance.”
5th – Able One – Jeff Lloyd (jockey)
“Just a great run. He had it very easy in front, didn’t use any petrol and he kicked in the straight.”
6th – African Story – Silvestre de Souza (jockey)
“He ran a good race. The pace was a bit slow and didn’t suit him.”
7th – Musir – Kevin Shea (jockey)
“He had every chance, he had a nice position from stall 12 and he ran well. He’s off to stud now and I’m very happy he’s in one piece.”
8th – Admiration – Weichong Marwing (jockey)
“He didn’t run too bad, I think he will improve.”
9th – Sunny King – Tim Clark (jockey)
“He was back and he went okay, he’s getting a bit older now, it’s harder for him.”
10th – Cityscape – James Doyle (jockey)
“I thought the race rode very rough. We half missed the break a little bit and we were getting hassled the whole way round. They went very slow and sprinted up the straight and that just doesn’t really suit the horse. Missing the break was the thing, once we did that it was a tough task.”
11th – King’s Rose – Luke Nolen (jockey)
“The pace was slow and I really had no choice other than to make a mid-race move but she is a better chaser. Everywhere we went was basically the wrong spot.”
12th – Beauty Flash – Matthew Chadwick (jockey)
“He’s just had enough. He’s past his best.”
13th – Fair Trade – Olivier Doleuze (jockey)
“It was a good run.”
14th – Destined For Glory – Tye Angland (jockey)
“Just early we got checked up the fence and lost our position. The horse went well, we were just too far back.”