Vision D’Etat overcame an 11th hour injury scare to complete a memorable afternoon for France as the Royal Ascot winner gave trainer Eric Libaud another Sha Tin winner in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup.
The mile-and-a-quarter event is the highlight of the International meeting and French spirits were already riding high after Daryakana and Kasbah Bliss’ closely-fought first and third in the Vase.
Vision D’Etat’s participation had been thrown into doubt on Saturday after swelling was found on his right hind fetlock.
But the four-year-old former French Derby winner passed the Jockey Club vet in the early hours of Sunday and went on to make his mark in the Far East.
Libaud landed the Vase with Ange Gabriel in 2002 and nominated Hong Kong as the target for Vision D’Etat after he failed to stay a mile and a half in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe two months ago.
Winning jockey Olivier Peslier was already the leading rider at the meeting with six wins and his seventh looked easy pickings as he struck the front halfway down the home run.
Former Hong Kong Derby winner Collection was carrying the support of the locals but the red-hot market leader found that Vision D’Etat was long gone when coming with his challenge and was a three-quarter length second.
Libaud said: “At lunchtime yesterday we thought he was out, but we took good care of him.
“We had a small canter on the all-weather track this morning and that was reassuring.
“When I saw the horse on the track this morning I was reassured as he looked back to his best.”
Peslier said: “When he hit the front he wanted to stop and he was a little bit lazy on the back straight, but when he is like that he is well.
“It was like at Ascot and he finished well – not like in the Arc when he was nervous. Today he was more relaxed.”
His owner Jacques Detre confirmed his charge would remain in training next year, adding: “He will be racing next year, probably starting with a campaign in Dubai.”
Luca Cumani had warned that QEII Cup winner Presvis may need the run and his representative finished with menace under Kieren Fallon to be beaten over three lengths further back into third.
Cumani said: “I thought he would be in the first three and that’s exactly what he’s managed to do.
“He had nowhere to go in the straight but once he got going, he’s passed a lot of horses in the final furlong.
“He’ll improve for the run and we’ll now look forward to Dubai and coming back here in the spring.
“He flies out there on Tuesday and we’ll give him a run on the grass and one on the Tapeta to decide which race we go for on the World Cup night.”
Fallon added: “He’ll come on a ton for that. He’s not quite there yet, but I loved the way he finished.
“He’s come on so much since Lingfield and that will put him right for where ever he goes next.”
Last year’s winner Eagle Mountain was having just his second start of the year after leg problems and trainer Mike De Kock was pleased with his effort in finishing fifth.
“He’s over his problems and has paid his way,” said the South African handler.
“We had no great expectations of him today as he was only about 85% there.
“We can now go to the Dubai Carnival with a fit horse, rather than trying to get him fit out there.
“The plan will be to have three runs at the Dubai Carnival and we will try him on the artificial surface, to see if we’re going to have a crack at the World Cup itself.”