PING Hai Star rocketed from last in a 14-horse field to win the $2.3 million Hong Kong Derby on Sunday at Sha Tin Racecourse. South African-bred Singapore Sling, judged the best turned-out runner before the race, finished a gallant second for trainer Tony Millard.
It was the third Hong Kong Derby win for trainer John Size, who bumped Ping Hai Star up from a series of Class 2 handicaps to the most important age-restricted race in Hong Kong while stretching him out to 2000 metres, off a series of 1400-metre races. He also tabbed Ryan Moore to pilot Ping Hai Star, and the talented Moore responded with his first Hong Kong Derby victory.
“He’s a very talented horse. I had fun riding him today,” Moore told Hong Kong Jockey Club publicity.
A four-year-old son of Australian Derby winner Nom Du Jeu, Ping Hai Star raced as Ted in Australia where he won two of his three starts over 1200m and 1400m for Stuart Kendrick at the Sunshine Coast.
“The last time he raced he showed me he could be a Derby prospect, coming from the tail of the field,” Size said.
“He reeled off some quick sectionals at the end of the race and the only gamble was whether he was fit enough and had the stamina for 2000 metres with his inexperience.
“You can’t win a race any more dominantly than that – he’s a class horse that come out of the pack so he’s identified himself certainly.