Pride signs off in style in Hong Kong Cup thriller

PRIDE bowed out of racing on a high with victory in a thrilling renewal of the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin yesterday.

The six-year-old, trained in France by Alain de Royer-Dupre, is now set for a career in the paddocks after rounding off her career with a short-head win over Admire Moon in the 10-furlong feature.

Christophe Lemaire settled Pride in her usual position off the pace as Growl and High Intelligence disputed the early lead.

Lemaire began to make his move approaching the turn for home, creeping up on the outside before delivering Pride’s challenge around a furlong and a half out.

Pride had the measure of her rivals, moving up to hit the front as Irish challenger Alexander Goldrun, also having her final start, began to back-pedal as her run faded. However, Yutaka Take was just hitting top gear on Admire Moon and he was flying in the last furlong but Pride was not to be denied in a thrilling finish.

“She has been a marvellous filly who has a brilliant turn of foot,” said Royer-Dupre “Today is a special story in a long career. We have a new system of keeping three great fillies (Pride, Alexander Goldrun and Ouija Board) going and today all three are retiring.

“As for me, I will have to find another one.”

Lemaire admitted it was a nervy finish as Take looked to have almost snatched victory in the final furlong.

Lemaire said: “When it came to the last corner I was behind Alexander Goldrun. She helped me into the race but unfortunately we had to come a little bit early.

“She has a great turn of foot, but her run is quite short so she was stopping a bit for me at the end and I was frightened we might get caught.

“It was her very special fighting spirit that got her home.”

Alexander Goldrun could finish only ninth but trainer Jim Bolger refused to let the loss blight what was an important day for his mare.

“There were no excuses really,” he said. “I was perfectly happy until turning into the straight.

“It’s the end of a great era, she owes us nothing. She’s now retired.

Meanwhile Collier Hill capped what has been a glorious second half of the season when leading home a clean sweep for the European raiders in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase.

Alan Swinbank’s runner just held Irish challenger Kastoria and the French filly Shamdala in a thrilling finish to the Group One contest.

The eight-year-old was completing a hat-trick of wins after taking the Stockholm Cup in Sweden and the Canadian International at Woodbine on his last two starts.

He made all at Woodbine but was unable to match the strong pace set by Admire Main in the 12-furlong event.

Dean McKeown was bustling him along approaching the top bend but, when squaring-up for the home stretch, the gelding found his stride and bounded into a clear lead.

Kastoria and Michael Kinane were enduring a rough ride in behind though, and dropped back to near last when badly hampered, only to pick up stylishly when switched to the outer.

It was nip and tuck for Collier Hill in the final 100 yards but the post came just in time and the veteran held on by a nose.

McKeown, himself one of the veterans of the weighing room, said: “Six out I was absolutely flat to the boards but he kept finding for me and as soon as he saw daylight in the straight, he surged forward. When Kastoria came to challenge he stuck his head out at the right time. “He’s done me proud by winning on four continents and I imagine if he comes out of this OK, he’ll be off to Dubai in March.”

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