Ascot next for Archipenko

Mike De Kock has set his sights on Royal Ascot after Archipenko struck gold in the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin.

Mike De Kock has set his sights on Royal Ascot after Archipenko struck gold in the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin.

The four-year-old finished an unlucky third in last month’s Dubai Duty Free, but gained ample compensation in beating the French-trained Balius by one and three-quarter lengths.

Last season’s winner Viva Pataca finished third, with Packing Winner further back in fourth.

Archipenko is in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Ascot in June and South African-based De Kock is confident a second top-level win could now be on the cards.

“I made it no secret that I thought he was a top horse and I felt he had a Group One win in him anywhere in the world,” said De Kock, who also won the QEII Cup with Irridescence in 2006.

“We had interrupted preparations in the run up to the Duty Free and he still ran a cracker. He is still on an upward spiral.

“It sounds crazy, he has just won a Group One, but he is still improving.”

Winning jockey Kevin Shea revealed Johnny Murtagh, who guided De Kock’s Asiatic Boy to second place behind Curlin in the Dubai World Cup, should take some credit for Archipenko’s victory after suggesting the colt should wear blinkers.

“It’s a big team effort, but I am the guy who rides the last two minutes which are the most profitable,” said Shea, who won the Dubai Sheema Classic on board Sun Classique for De Kock last month.

“This horse was very unlucky in the Duty Free. I was actually very critical of myself, but we took the defeat and we have now got our Group One and I am sure there is another one in this horse.

“He came out of the gates very well and then came back into my hands and settled nicely. He is the kind of horse that prefers to have some daylight, so I was happy having no horses outside me.

“When I pulled him out in the straight I gave him two cracks and he dropped down well and I knew it was going to take something special to beat us.”

Earlier at an overcast Sha Tin, the Andreas Schutz-trained Good Ba Ba affirmed his position as Hong Kong’s best miler with an emphatic victory in the Champions Mile.

After winning the Hong Kong Mile, Stewards’ Cup and Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup, Olivier Doleuze guided the six-year-old gelding to a fourth consecutive Group One victory by a length from Armada.

“As a jockey this is one of the greatest moments of my life,” said Doleuze.

“Good Ba Ba is one of the greatest horses I have ever had a chance to ride.

“He was a legend and now he has made history. To win a race as strong as that and win it so easily, it’s difficult to explain just how good he is.

“I hope he is horse of the year at the end of the season.”

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