Aidan O’Brien was not too downhearted after Dylan Thomas failed to produce a fairytale ending to a superb career in the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin.
The four-year-old could not add to his King George VI, Irish Stakes and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victories this season as he trailed in seventh, four and three quarter lengths behind the French-trained winner Doctor Dino in his final run.
After being held up towards the rear by jockey Johnny Murtagh, a stumble when hampered early in the straight ended his chances.
O’Brien paid tribute to the Danehill colt’s career and praised his resilience in still being able to run after missing out on the Japan Cup. He had been held up by veterinary red tape getting to Hong Kong having already experiencing an arduous and extremely competitive season.
“He’s probably the best horse we’ve ever had,” said the Irish trainer.
“What he’s done this year from a mile and a furlong to a mile and a half is amazing and there comes a time for every horse.
“You must remember what he’s done, and even for him to turn up today, very few horses would’ve even turned up.
“He got caught in quarantine in Japan for a long time and he looked a horse ready to go into training than go out of training being realistic and honest, he was way overweight.
“We couldn’t do anything about it, we put as much work into him as we could and the lads did a good job keeping him sound and right.
“We were delighted to be invited here. It’s important that he’s safe. It didn’t really matter the race we’ve had.”
Murtagh added: “We missed the start and he was back too far and there was no pace. We had a problem when the winner came out on us in the straight but he had no gas.”
Doctor Dino, ridden by Olivier Peslier, hit the front close to home to win by a length and a half from German gelding Quijano with fellow German challenger Bussoni third. Arch Rebel finished a highly-creditable fourth for Irish trainer Noel Meade.
Doctor Dino’s trainer Richard Gibson was delighted to follow up the five-year-old’s Man O’War Stakes triumph at Belmont Park.
“We wanted to come to Hong Kong to win,” he said.
“The pre-race concern was about pace and again Olivier rode him fantastically.
“We were worried about the pace and the horse performed very well. Olivier rode with a lot of patience and calm I thought.”
Peslier underlined it was a relaxed approach that paid dividends as he had full confidence in the horse’s ability despite being boxed in on the rails at one point.
“My trainer said just start well and stay in just behind the lead,” he said.
“On the back straight it was a little bit slow with all the horses coming on the outside and no chance to move.
“I was blocked in and I stayed on the rail and waited a little bit to see what would happen.
“My horse travelled well, he has a good turn of foot in general and I was not scared for the distance.
“He stayed on the mile and a half, the horse just galloped when he was on the straight with nobody in front of him.
He just kept going, he accelerated well and after that, I knew I’d won the race.
Gibson will now turn his attention to a possible appearance at the Dubai World Cup meeting.
“He’s had a long season, so we’ll get him home and give him a good rest,” he added.
“But obviously Dubai has to be a target.”
Quijano’s jockey Andrasch Starke felt he had the chance of victory taken away.
“I had a good position early but was then taken back,” he said.
“I was checked three times and if I could have got out then I think he could have won.”
Christophe Soumillon, in contrast, was delighted to claim third on Bussoni.
“He’s run a great race and I’ve no complaints. The best horse on the day won,” he said.